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Lawn care equipment thefts on the rise in Salt Lake County, police say

(Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)



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SALT LAKE CITY — Keep an eye on your lawn equipment, because the thieves certainly are and they're ready to swipe your lawn mower in a matter of seconds.

That's the warning from the Unified Police Department, which has witnessed a recent spike in thefts of lawn equipment in Salt Lake County.

Property thefts typically spike in the summer, Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke said, and his department is warning property owners to take simple security precautions.

"We don't want to create that opportunity for these thieves," Lohrke said.

He said people should keep that in mind the next time they have their lawn equipment out, even when they are at home using it. The thieves are trolling neighborhoods on the Wasatch Front looking for easy opportunities, Lohrke said.

If someone leaves a weed trimmer or even a mower for just a few seconds, criminals may seize the opportunity.

"This is the time of day — broad daylight — when thieves like to act," Lohrke said. "Thieves are out there because they know that with lawn equipment they can get good dollars for that at the pawn shops."

Thieves are taking tools even if they are left unattended for a few seconds, he said. Many people are vulnerable, even the police officers themselves.

"I was working out in my front yard," Lohrke said. "I have my garage door open. But then I went out back to do some work and thought to myself, 'I've got to go close my garage door.'"

Even though he was still at home, Lohrke could not see the other side of his house.

"It's just as quick and easy for someone to run up my driveway, steal something and be gone," he said.

As the opioid epidemic in Utah intensifies, many thieves today are desperate for their next drug fix, Lohrke said. Drug addicts are stealing anything they can get their hands on to sell for quick cash.

"Not only are they more bold, but the quantity of these (thefts) also has increased," he said.

Police make these simple security recommendations: Don't leave unattended lawn equipment in the yard. When you're not around, lock equipment up in a shed or garage. Make it a habit: every time, with all locks.

Lohrke said it's important to have this theft prevention conversation among ourselves and "with our family members, because a lot of our family members, especially the older generation, are used to not locking their house door or not locking their car door."

He also suggests using etching tools to permanently mark equipment, recording the serial numbers on each item, and taking photographs of the tools for your records. That makes claiming stolen property more likely.

"We don't want to create the opportunity for thieves," Lohrke said. "We want to make ourselves what we call a hard target."

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Utah
Jed Boal

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