Easy pickings in Cave Creek

By Sara Fassil | November 25, 2009

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CAVE CREEK – Cave Creek residents are at a high risk of theft when keeping cars unlocked.

This type of crime is referred to this as a “crime of opportunity,” said Cave Creek’s Marshal Adam Stein. Cave Creek has about 5,000 residents, so it makes for an easy target for thieves.

marshal adam steinStein said that theft from keeping car doors unlocked usually occurs about once or twice a week, more or less. Stein said thieves typically come in from larger cities such as Phoenix, Scottsdale and Anthem.

“This is usually a drug related crime,” said Stein.

They rummage through cars to get anything of value to pay for drugs.

This is a prevalent crime, but it is under reported because items taken are usually not of substantial value. Stein estimates that on average, a thief breaks into ten cars a night and takes anywhere from $20 to $50 in change.

“I’d say that’s a pretty good night for them,” said Stein.

Stein said the profiles of those who commit this crime are primarily Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic males between the ages of 18 and 36 years old.

The thieves are looking for anything of value, like change, CDs, laptops and guns, said Stein. Sometimes registration and insurance information are taken. Even garage door openers are stolen.

This is a strange item to steal considering the thieves do not use the garage door openers for anything. Stein said it is rare that the thieves break into garages at night after they steal the garage door openers because they assume someone is home.

Stein said it is usually too late for the thieves to come back to the home later to steal items because the victims disable their garage codes and replace the garage door openers immediately.

This crime is prevalent in subdivision neighborhoods, but it occurs all over the town.

Cave Creek resident Barbara Allen said she has been living in town for ten years and was told to keep car doors locked at all times because of this problem.

Allen said many of the houses in Cave Creek have garages, but people keep cars parked in driveways since some residents use their garages for extra storage space.

“I think it is a good idea to always keep your car doors locked,” said Allen.

To help prevent this crime, Stein said residents should park cars in garages, be aware of strangers in neighborhoods and leave outside lights on at night as a deterrent.

Stein said Cave Creek has 12 police officers, including the captain, lieutenant and detective. One to two deputies are on duty at a time for a 24-hour period. The town also has 35 trained police volunteers who report anything out of the ordinary.