DRAPER, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A quiet, upscale community is a target for criminals. The irony is police say Draper residents may be inviting crime into their neighborhoods.
"Driving around, watching the homes like this is similar to the casing some of the opportunist criminals do," says Draper’s crime prevention specialist Gary Howell.
The retired career law enforcer works for the Draper police department. His job, teach citizens how to protect themselves. He has his work cut out for him in this tranquil, upscale community, where homeowners feel a sense of security that may not be real.
Today, Howell is taking this reporter along for a ride, showing us what criminals are looking for, and finding, when they prowl Draper neighborhoods.
"They look for residents that don't have doors closed -- garage doors, front doors, windows -- that give them the opportunity to commit the crime," says Keller as he drives along.
Howell says he sees three major risks in these neighborhoods.
The first, open invitations for non-residents.
“That's an open one but there are people there," he says as he slows and peers into a garage.
"There's another one across the street. That one there had people in it but this one doesn't," he says. "Looks like there's a lot of recreational equipment in there."
Door after door, gaping open. Equipment, tools, bicycles, ATVs and other valuables in plain sight. In less than two hours, we find more than two dozen garage doors open.
At the top of the bench, near Corner Canyon, where the multi-million dollar houses reside, an example of the second threat to homeowners - work crews and service providers. Howell makes the observation as he drives past three homes under construction on one street.
“You get the wrong person working in a yard or inside someone's home and you leave your garage door open you could find yourself a victim shortly after that or a theft or a burglary," he says.
Our tour guide pulls up to a driveway where the garage door is open. We knock on the door. No one is home.
"They already have the opportunity to get into the garage. How much further would they have to go to get in the home through that inside door?"
That’s when Howell points out the third threat, one he says is perhaps the toughest to fix.
"There’s no neighborhood watch program on this block. I don’t see anyone here watching or able to watch this residence,” he says “We want to get the message out to our whole community that you want to secure your homes, especially when you're not at home, and you need to watch out for each other."
Draper police department’s push to mobilize residents to start neighborhood watch groups in their city is getting a cool reception. Police say they fear it may take a crime spree to scare homeowners into taking action.