Hot weather, open windows lead to burglaries in Olympia

With hotter-than-usual temperatures in Thurston County, residents have been leaving windows open during the day.

While open windows can lead to a cooler house, they’re also partially responsible for a string of burglaries in Olympia, said Lt. Paul Lower, of the Olympia Police Department.

Olympia police investigated a total of 34 residential burglaries last month — they investigated only 21 in June of last year. The incidents mainly occurred on the east side of the city, with a few taking place in northeast Olympia at the beginning of the month, and others in southeast Olympia more recently.

Lower said the northeast Olympia residential burglaries seem to have stopped for now, and officers are focusing their efforts on stopping the incidents in the neighborhoods farther south.

“Right now, the ones happening between State Avenue and (Interstate) 5 are what we’re concerned about,” Lower said.

Officers are also investigating burglaries on the other side of I-5, near Olympia High School.

For the most part, the reported burglaries have been crimes of opportunity, Lower said. And many have taken place during the day.

“In this heat, people often leave windows and garage doors open,” Lower said. “I know it’s hot, but people need to make sure to secure their homes.”

So far, the crime trend hasn’t permeated the other areas of Thurston County. Lt. Cliff Ziesemer of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said his department hasn’t noticed an increase compared to recent years. In May, 79 burglaries were reported. June statistics haven’t yet been compiled.

“It’s about the same as normal, but it’s still too high,” Ziesemer said.

The same is true in Lacey, said Sgt. Terence Brimmer of the Lacey Police Department. He didn’t have exact numbers, but he said the department is seeing about the same number of residential burglaries in recent years.

However, as in Olympia, recent burglaries appear to be crimes of opportunity.

“It’s hot, and people walk by during the day and see open houses,” Brimmer said.

Officers have also investigated cases in which suspects have cased out houses beforehand, pretending to sell subscriptions.

“We’ve briefed our day and swing shifts on these, and they’re keeping an eye out for suspects,” Brimmer said.