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SOUTH JORDAN — Home burglary is one of the most common crimes in Utah neighborhoods, affecting thousands of homeowners every year.
Don Malouf was a victim of burglary. He was on vacation when a burglar went through his backyard, broke through the door and rummaged through his house.
"There's a feeling of violation," Malouf said. He shared his reaction, after seeing a ghostly looking picture of the suspected burglar taken from a security camera.
"Holy cow, there's a creepy looking guy in my house," he said. "I mean he came in, he saw the camera and walked over and unplugged it, I guess, or drifted over and unplugged it."
Unfortunately, that creepy looking "ghost" took off with his TV.
Chris Payton, another victim of a burglary, said "I thought this was a safe neighborhood."
Payton also got a picture of the suspected burglar just outside his front door. Surveillance footage shows a FedEx driver dropping off a package of electronics at Payton's house. A few hours later, an unknown man makes his way to the porch, looks down at the package, knocks on the door and leaves. About a minute after that he reappears, knocks again, and takes off again. But he's still not done. Forty-five seconds later, he knocks, walks out of frame, and then grabs the package and takes off.
"It's infuriating that someone would just steal it," Payton said.
- Keep doors and windows locked
- Move expensive property out of plain sight
- Keep the garage door closed
- Install and alarm system
- Install surveillance cameras
- Leave some lights on (to make it appear that you are home)
- Have a neighbor collect newspapers, mail and fliers
"Pretty much if it's not bolted to the house, or into the garage, or into the car itself, they'll take it," said Sgt. Sam Winkler, with the South Jordan Police Department.
Winkler said here in Utah, if you're going to be the victim of a crime chances are it will be at the hands of a burglar.
"We don't have a lot of homicides," he said. "We don't have a lot of arsons or sex offenses. But we do have a lot of property crimes."
FBI numbers show about 14,000 homes are burglarized every year in Utah, costing homeowners more than $24 million. Thieves usually strike in broad daylight, and most of the time they don't have to force their way inside. That's what happened to Marissa Maughan.
"He went through the window, the basement window," she said.
The window wasn't locked, and Maughan walked into her home while the burglary was in progress.
"I'm opening the door, and he's flying away," she said. "You know, it's the stuff on the news that's now happening to you, and you just got hit with reality."
The reality is, too often we practically invite burglars into our homes, with unlocked doors, property in plain sight and a wide-open garage. Burglaries may never be stopped completely, but sometimes it's almost scary how easy we make it for them.