SALT LAKE CITY — Police set up a sting operation Monday night to catch car burglars during the Jazz game. About 30 extra officers were on the street as part of the operation.
There were no arrests, but that doesn't mean the operation wasn't a success. In one lot, officers spotted two women and a man checking car doors to see if any were left unlocked.
As thousands of people filtered in for the Jazz game, the once-empty lots in downtown Salt Lake City became packed with cars.
"Sometimes criminals are very brazen in what they do," said Det. Rick Wall.
Police say during events like Jazz games there are more cars downtown, which means criminals see more opportunities. Even with crowds of people around, police notice what looks like prowlers in parking lots.
One man got away, but officers detained and questioned two women who they said were looking for unlocked doors. Just off 500 South, police see what looks like a man and woman on bicycles, checking car windows for anything of value.
"We have a responsibility as citizens that we need to really make it more difficult for the criminals to victimize us," Wall said.
Things police see far too often — a purse or valuables left out in the open — are a sign of an easy grab for burglars.
As shown on surveillance video, in just over 50 seconds a man in this white SUV pulls up to one car, breaks in, does the same to another and drives off unnoticed.
Two bait cars were set up for the sting operation. Above them, a heat-sensitive camera kept a close watch on the lot below.
"When we have larger groups of people that come in for various events," Wall said. "It can be concerts, basketball games, certain events. Any time we have an increase in the population of our city of people come in. Sometimes we'll typically find that we'll have an increase in car burglaries, car prowls."
Both uniformed and plain-clothed officers were out in number, not only to catch burglars, but to prevent break-ins from happening.
Since August Salt Lake City police say there have been well over a hundred car burglaries downtown. That's a number that typically goes up during the holiday season.