Broomfield Police try personal approach to tackle garage burglaries


BROOMFIELD, Colo. — They are places you park your car or store your stuff. But garages can also open the door to criminals.

The City of Broomfield is seeing a spike in garage  burglaries this summer. So it is taking a new tactic to help prevent these crimes of opportunity.

Problem Solvers were on patrol with Broomfield Officer Larry Ottosen when he spotted a crime waiting to happen.

“We’ve seen a recent increase in garage burglaries. About 70 percent of burglaries this year have been because of open garage doors,” he said.

An open garage door literally opens the door to a crime that is low risk and high reward.

“We’re giving criminals an opportunity to come in and get away with a fairly easy crime,” said Ottosen.

It’s a crime that’s doubled in Broomfield this summer over last in the town of 65,000 residents.

And he wants residents to know.

He knocked on doors of homes with open garages.

There wasn’t always an answer.

“We’ve been here about a minute. If we were a burglar, we could have had a lot of things,” he said.

Finally, the homeowner came out.

And Ottosen gave him personal pointers to thwart thieves.

“We are not trying to shame these people. These are normal people, just like you and I.”

The officer found another open invitation to a criminal a few streets away.

“My concern with this garage is I can see three to four bikes and a motorcycle–really easy access stuff. They can be in and out of the garage in 30 seconds and no one would know,” he said.

The homeowner, Martin Porter, appreciates the heads up on a crime he thought was more predominant at night.

“Not so much in the daytime. When I am here too,” he said.

“We get the mentality it’s not going to happen to me. But it can happen to any of us. It’s happened to me,” said Ottosen.

Someone stole his lawnmower about 15 years ago.

“I thought my wife moved into the back shed and it wasn’t in our back shed either. At that point we realized, one of us had left the garage door open,” he said.

And there’s no stealing an answer as to who left it open.

“I plead the Fifth on that one,” he laughed.

But he will tell you all day long the solution to sticky fingers is simple.

“All you got to do is close your garage door and you’re not going to be a victim of that crime.”

Ottosen said thieves will either take items from your garage, like a bike or tools–or they will walk inside your home and take valuables lying around, like electronics and wallets.

And while most people think burglaries happen at night, Ottosen said most actually happen during the day–through open garage doors–often when people are home and their defenses are down.