DENVER -- Thieves are apparently targeting dog owners at Kennedy Dog Park, breaking into cars while the owners focus on Fido.
Rob Reuteman, an adjunct professor at CSU, said he saw broken glass on three separate occasions while exercising his dogs during the winter break.
"Last week, I noticed over two different days, three piles of glass on the ground, indicating a smash-and-grab," he said.
Reuteman said he went back to the park on Thursday and saw two cars side by side, with their windows smashed.
"The owners were standing next to them," he said. "In one case, a young woman was crying."
Reuteman said the driver had left her purse with her wallet, debit cards and driver's license in the car and when she came back, they were gone.
"She was just weeping that she'd been wiped out," he said.
Crime map shows ebb, flow
The Denver Police Department's crime map showed two reported thefts at Kennedy Dog Park in December. The January numbers, if any, aren't available yet.
Here are the thefts from vehicles at the park from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018:
|2 Thefts||Dec. 2018|
|1 Theft||Oct. 2018|
|1 Theft||Sept. 2018|
|2 Thefts||Aug. 2018|
|1 Theft||Feb. 2018|
|1 Theft||Jan. 2018|
|4 Thefts||Nov. 2017|
|1 Theft||Oct. 2017|
|1 Theft||Aug. 2017|
|1 Theft||Apr. 2017|
"It's obviously kind of scary," said Chelsea Hicks, an owner who brought her dog to the park Saturday afternoon. "You come here to have your pet play. You're not really thinking about what's going on with your car."
Hicks said she sometimes leaves her purse under her seat, but always takes her credit card and ID with her.
Troy and Nina McAvoy said they also noticed broken glass in the parking lot last week.
"If we have anything valuable, we usually put it in the glovebox," Troy said. "We come her for a purpose, so we don't bring a lot of valuable stuff with us."
The city has posted signs at the entrance to the "off-leash" area, warning drivers to not leave valuables in their car.
Police department spokesman Doug Schepman said drivers can lessen the likelihood of being targeted by always making sure they don't leave important items in the car, especially in plain sight. He also recommended double-checking that the car windows are rolled up all the way and that doors are locked.
Two dog owners, responding to Reuteman's post about the break-ins on Nextdoor, wrote that they'd seen a man, without a dog, looking at cars in the parking lot. In the post, they wrote that he had a silver sedan with Texas plates.
Schepman said anyone who notices something suspicious at that dog park should call police.
Other dog parks have been targeted, too.
Last May, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office sent deputies out to patrol the Glendale Farm Open Space off-leash area, after receiving several reports about car break-ins.
While responding to Reuteman's Nextdoor post about the break-ins, another dog owner wrote that her car was one of six targeted within a 20-minute period last November at the Cherry Creek Dog Off-Leash Area.