Upper Arlington police are asking residents to stay vigilant and take precautions after a recent spate of thefts from unsecured houses, garages and vehicles south of Lane Avenue.

Residential burglaries and thefts have been reported on and around Andover Road, Bedford, Elgin, Fairfax and Tremont roads, and on Arlington Avenue.

Officials said thieves seem to be looking for unlocked houses, garages and vehicles. Stolen items have included money, lawn care equipment, tools and miscellaneous electronics.

"Thefts in Upper Arlington since spring, early summer have not been unusual throughout the community," UAPD Sgt. Heather Galli said. "The prompt for the crime alert stems from reports where we have noted a cluster of targeted areas south of Lane Avenue.

"A common factor in many of the reported thefts has been the thieves finding and targeting vehicles and structures that are unlocked or unsecured. The suspects also appear to be focusing on detached garages or sheds."

Galli said police patrols have been increased in the affected areas, but residents throughout the city can help by being vigilant and immediately reporting unusual activity or suspicious behavior. She said residents should call police if they see:

* Someone looking in windows of houses and parked cars.

* Someone forcing entry into a house, garage or vehicle.

* Property being taken out of houses where no one is at home or from closed businesses.

* Cars, vans or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination or without lights.

* Any unusual noise, regardless of the time of day; for example, a scream, breaking glass, loud crashing sound, prying noise or any audible alarm.

* Any unfamiliar cars parked or running on the street or in a neighbor's driveway.

* Someone running from a house or location.

* Someone screaming or shouting for help.

In addition, residents are reminded to keep all doors and windows to homes and vehicles locked.

If possible, Galli said, park in well-lit areas and remove or store valuables out of plain view.

The UAPD "strongly encourages" residents to document and maintain records of serial numbers for personal belongings and valuables.

"We have found from experience and interviews with individuals arrested for similar theft offenses that these people will continue to target an area if it remains 'target rich' -- high yield requiring very little effort," she said. "While there is no guarantee that we can eliminate all instances of criminal activity, if we can reduce the opportunities for potential thieves, they will be less likely to return."

Anyone with information or questions about the crimes and keeping property safe can contact the police division at 614-583-5160.

"Summer is prime time for vacations and residents being away from their home for extended periods of time," Galli said. "Residents can contact the police division to provide information about emergency contacts, etc. by completing a Vacation House Watch form available on the city website (uaoh.net) or at the police desk (3600 Tremont Road).

"The police division will also be happy to provide safety talks for community groups and members at no charge."