You're Inviting Thieves Into Your Backyard If You Have This, Police Say in New Warning
Take precautionary measures to make sure your yard isn't targeted.
With summer coming to a close, many of us are enjoying those last few days of sun in the backyard. Watching the sun set on the back deck is one of life's little luxuries. Maybe you're also hosting one last backyard barbecue this weekend before spooky season officially settles in. But police are now warning of one thing you have in your backyard that could be rolling out the welcome mat for thieves. Read on to find out what might be attracting criminals, and what police recommend doing to protect yourself.
Home-related theft is on the rise.
Police have issued several warnings about an uptick in crimes related to the home. The Bradenton Police Department in Bradenton, Florida issued a press release on July 27, warning about a new burglary scheme targeting older adults. As part of the con, suspects knock and claim to be pest control employees. Once they're let in, however, they proceed to steal jewelry and other valuable items.
A similar scheme occurs where thieves pose as home repairman, the Chicago Police Department warned in June. Criminals knock and ask about repairs or water problems, and once the victim is distracted, they enter the home and steal valuables.
Police warned residents not to let strangers inside that they didn't hire and to lock their doors even when at home.
But while you can likely keep a close watch on your front door, you might not be as vigilant when monitoring your backyard.
A certain backyard amenity is a perfect target for thieves.
If you're fortunate enough to have a pool in your backyard, you know that maintenance is no easy feat. There are saltwater and chlorine options, both of which require weekly chemical balancing routines. Keeping your pool clean and free of debris is another story.
A skimmer can only get you so far, so many pool owners opt to invest in a robotic pool cleaner. These save time and energy, but they're not cheap—running anywhere from a few hundred dollars to nearly $2,000—which is what makes them so enticing to thieves.
In a string of tweets on Aug. 25, police in Southlake, Texas warned residents about a significant rise in pool cleaner thefts, including eight that occurred since May.
"We weren't really aware it was a thing until all of a sudden we see how many and how long this has been going on," Brad Uptmore, public information officer for Southlake police and fire, told NBC DFW.
Specific pool cleaner brands are being targeted.
Theft is no joke, but police in Southlake actually took a lighthearted approach when cautioning residents about the thefts on Twitter.
The first tweet includes a photo of one officer lifting a pool cleaner over his head, referencing the iconic scene in The Lion King where Simba is raised as a cub over Pride Rock.
"You may be asking what Corporal Thomas is Simba-ing over here, and if you're not a pool owner, you may not have a clue," the tweet reads. "But that fair citizens, is a pool cleaner."
The Twitter warning goes on to explain that brands like Polaris, Tristar, Pentair, and Dolphin are "being stolen with a pretty good regularity in the area." Thieves will snatch the cleaners at night and "find a way to sell, repurpose, [or] tear apart," likely to resell computer chips or other parts online, Uptmore told NBC DFW.
Police have several suggestions for keeping your robot safe and sound.
After Southlake police posted their warning on Twitter, police recovered five stolen pool cleaners during an Aug. 31 traffic stop, also making an arrest.
Still, police urge residents to stay vigilant, as Uptmore noted that the trend has been picking up in nearby Texas towns, including Keller, Colleyville, and Fort Worth.
"We know these R2-D2 like things can get heavy when they're full of water, but we strongly ask you to lock them up in your garages, pool house, cabana, fort, whatever each night," Southlake police tweeted.
They also recommended locking your gates and keeping lights on in the backyard, as all burglaries happened to residents who left gates unlocked and the lights off. Pool owners are further encouraged to invest in an outdoor camera or even hide an Apple AirTag inside their pool cleaners—police noted one cleaner was recovered thanks to the little tracking device.
"We're constantly on neighborhood checks but we need your help to keep your gates, house, and pool cleaners secure," Southlake police tweeted, ending with a little pun. "We have to deep end on each other to prevent theft."