Anecdotally, the theft-prevention notice program initiated in July by Grandview Heights police officers working the overnight shift might be making a difference.
"We do seem to be seeing fewer garage doors left open overnight," said Sgt. Michael Estep, who is on duty during the third shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
"But that may be partly because it's winter and it gets colder at night," he said.
Summer will bring a clearer picture of the program's full impact, Estep said.
Since the program started July 5, 2019, officers have been mailing written notices to residents when they spot an open garage door or valuables placed in plain sight in a vehicle.
Three to five officers are on patrol each night, and each officer spends some time on foot patrol, Estep said.
Thefts are the most common incident for officers working the graveyard shift, he said.
The primary focus of the theft-prevention notice program has been garages, Estep said.
As of Feb. 25, notices have been sent to 64 residents who left their overhead garage doors open, he said.
"That's the biggest problem we've seen," Estep said. "We've only sent out a few vehicle notices."
Thieves are looking for easy opportunities to commit crimes, and an open garage door is an invitation, he said.
"It's quick and easy," Estep said.
Power tools and other equipment stored in garages are frequent targets, and items often are stolen from the cars parked in garages, he said.
In November and December 2019, the police department received about 15 reports of thefts from garages, Estep said.
"All of them were incidents where the overhead garage doors had been left open overnight," he said.
Six thefts were reported Nov. 21 and occurred on the 1300 block of Westwood Avenue, the 1300 block of Wyandotte Road and the 1300 block of Glenn Avenue.
A Columbus man who was arrested on unrelated charges confessed to being involved in some of the incidents, Estep said, and he has been indicted in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on four charges of breaking and entering.
Three of the charges are from thefts Nov. 21 and another charge is related to a breaking and entering that occurred Dec. 1, he said.
Two other suspects also have been charged with three counts of breaking and entering connected to the Nov. 21 incidents, according to the common-pleas court's online case file.
Residents need to be mindful about closing their overhead garage doors, Estep said.
"It's easy to forget to close the door when you get home or after you've carried your groceries in from the car," he said.
Pedestrian doors also can provide easy access to garages, Estep said.
"You need to make sure you keep those doors locked," he said.