More than 80 homeowners have been victims of a unique type of burglary this summer that doesn't require a thief to pick a lock or break a window.
Lexington police said there has been a rash of crimes that they referred to Tuesday during a news conference as "garaging" or "garage shopping." It's a crime that can happen to anyone who leaves a garage door open, whether for just a minute or overnight, police said.
"Garaging is where individuals travel throughout the city looking for the opportunity to get into a garage through an open door," Officer Bige Towery said.
Towery said garaging tends to be "a crime of opportunity:" A thief sees an open garage and decides on the spot to go in. In other cases, he said, thieves drive around the city, looking for open garage doors.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
In June, more than 80 instances of garaging were reported in Lexington. Figures from July to the present were not available Tuesday because statisticians were sorting through data, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said. Speaking anecdotally, Roberts said the trend appears to have continued into late summer.
The items taken are generally small and within reach. Towery said thieves often take tools, lawn equipment, sporting goods and, in some cases, booze.
"We're ... seeing an increase in juveniles looking for refrigerators, particularly for alcohol," Towery said.
Police said garaging cases can be difficult to prosecute, because "in many cases the suspect is able to complete the theft without being detected."
Also, the crime is not specific to one part of town.
"This is certainly a crime that would be citywide," Towery said.
If patrol officers spot an open garage door, they will try to alert the homeowner, Towery said. He said homeowners can easily reduce the risk of such a crime.
"Whether you're going to the store for a few minutes, whether you're going to a neighbor's house, keep those garage doors closed," Towery said.