Gary Pick is sure he locks his car doors when he parks outside of his Rodgers Forge house. In recent weeks, he's noticed a few things were amiss.
"I would go in the car and find stuff thrown all over the place," he said.
Later he found his sunglasses and change missing — and the doors unlocked.
"I always lock it," he said. "I was pretty surprised to find it unlocked."
Pick isn't alone. Baltimore County Police have noticed a rash of break-ins since the beginning of October. "It's not only in Rodgers Forge. It's in all the neighborhoods that border the city," said Lt. Randy Guralecska, assistant commander for Precinct 6.
Other neighborhoods affected include Anneslie, Loch Raven Village, Idlewylde, Ridgely Oaks and Hillendale. "We're having a wave of it," he said.
In response, police have picked up patrols and reached out to the communities to be sure people are locking their car doors and keeping valuables out of sight.
"People leaving their cars unlocked are an easy target," Guralecska said. IPhones, laptops and GPS are tempting. "If they see that, they will break in and get it."
Neighbors have been asked to watch out for each other, according to Lawrence Swoboda, Rodgers Forge Community Association president. "We're just trying to stay ahead of it," he said. A "very robust" Citizens on Patrol group has been alerted, as well. "We don't want this to happen to anybody," he said.
Guralescka advises residents to report car break-ins. "That makes us aware of an issue in the neighborhood," he said.
He said said there have been four arrests, two for break-ins in Anneslie and two for Ridgely Oak. The problem, he added, is the crimes are misdemeanors; after the arrests, they usually return to the streets. "We're starting over again."
Residents have said they are worried that thieves are using some kind of an electronic device to get into vehicles, Pick said. Cpl. John Wachter, spokesman for the Baltimore County Police, said "the existence of such a device is a myth."
Police say most targeted cars were unlocked. Few have had broken windows or were opened by another means. "We're not seeing that," Guralescka said. "They're mainly trying for cars that are unlocked."