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'Operation Hello Neighbor' aims to prevent theft

Cary police are launching a campaign to cut down on burglaries and thefts. People who leave their garage doors open and their cars unlocked are often the targets.

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CARY, N.C. — In an effort to fight rising open-garage burglaries and car thefts, the town of Cary launched "Operation Hello Neighbor" on Tuesday. Garage burglaries and automobile-related thefts are the town's most  frequent, preventable crimes.

The outreach effort aims to educate residents about the risks of leaving their garage doors open and their vehicles unlocked.

"We've forgotten to close our garage door, and it will stay open all night,” Cary homeowner Philip Diaz said.

Patrol officers went door-to-door Tuesday, talking with residents about the risks of leaving their garage doors open and their cars unlocked.

"I think a lot of times people just tend to overlook things, and I think that is why we want to remind them before they become victims," Cary Police Lt. Kevin Tingen said.

From January to Nov. 4, police had 35 reports of open-garage burglaries. During that same time, Cary received 53 reports of larcenies from vehicles at apartment complexes.

“While there isn’t anything illegal about leaving your garage or car door open or leaving items in clear view, doing so makes it very easy for criminals to steal valuable things like tools, food, GPS units, wallets and purses and even the car itself,” said Cary Police Lt. Travis Baker.

Carolyn Berlin's garage was burglarized this summer. She said she was grateful she wasn't home.

"What if I had walked out while they were there? That was bothersome to me,” Berlin said.

Some homeowners say Cary's low crime rate gives them a false sense of security.

"I think it is rather easy to become complacent,” Diaz said.

Officers will be in different neighborhoods daily to talk with homeowners about theft prevention. Fliers will also be distributed around town.

"Operation Hello Neighbor" goes through Jan. 31.