The rhythmic drone of lawn mowers will soon fill the air on weekends as spring brings area lawns back to life. Those familiar rumblings, though, could also be signaling opportunities for people with bad intentions.


“People who care for their own lawns will often get up early on a Saturday, open up the garage door, pull out the lawn mower, and get busy,” Murphy Police Chief Arthur “Trey” Cotten said. “In their haste, they will leave the garage door open, leaving their belongings vulnerable to roaming thieves.”


The brazenness of some people as they go about the “business” of theft cannot be taken lightly, he said. There have been instances of lightning-fast burglaries, where the homeowner is completely unaware of it until days later.


“We can sometimes trace these burglaries back to the weekend mowing, when the open garage door served as an open invitation,” Cotten said.


Lawn equipment, power tools, bicycles, small appliances and other equipment taken from garages can be quickly and easily sold at pawn shops or “fenced” in areas not far from Murphy.


Maintaining vigilance of personal equipment, even during short periods like when mowing the lawn, can prevent such losses.


“The simple act of closing the garage door while mowing the back yard can serve to discourage thieves,” he said. “In addition, an open garage door allows for some burglars to ‘case’ a home for a possible burglary later.”


A sure sign of such activity is the slow, and often repeated, driving of an unfamiliar vehicle in the area. And, while not all unfamiliar cars are occupied by criminals, the experience of police shows that people with bad intentions feel emboldened because residents are hesitant to report them.


“Alert citizens are our best line of defense,” Cotten said. “A report of a suspicious vehicle or persons in the neighborhood can lead to the break we might be seeking.”