LEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) - The Lee County Sheriff's office is seeing a spike in burglaries, and they say it's related to the downturn in the economy.
Investigators have handled more cases in the first eight months of this year than they did in all of 2006, with the same number of investigators.
Tough economic times have more people turning to illegal activity. Investigators say too often, homeowners are easy targets because they don't take the time to secure their homes.
As the economy continues to struggle on Wall Street, burglaries are up along Lee County's streets and investigators say there's a direct relationship.
"I've noticed since the economy has gone down our work load has gone up," says Captain Miles O'Quinn of the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
While criminals often target the easy steal an open garage door, an unlocked door, they're getting bolder. The StarDust Two owner Craig Dodge found out the hard way.
"We always lock the doors, they were locked anyway, they just kicked the back door in," said Dodge.
Investigators say Dodge's case is the exception. Thieves are targeting unlocked cars, sheds, and garages with easy access all across the south end of the county.
"As sad as it sounds yes, this day and time you can not afford to leave your stuff unlocked," says O'Quinn.
They're also looking for signs like these and often pass by homes with an alarm that could call attention to their activities.
"It's easier to just take something than it is to break into something and take it," says O'Quinn.
The Dodge family installed an alarm system. Investigators recently made a break in their case and arrested two brothers. They're looking at other ways to secure their home as items stolen have been returned.
"Some jewelry some movies, a DVD player, I think that's about it," says Dodge.
GBI agents say 17-year-old Anthony Weaver is charged with the burglary at the Dodge home. Weaver's brother was arrested Thursday in another county and is also charged in the crime.