CLIFTON PARK — The Saratoga County Sheriff's Department is investigating overnight car break-ins and home burglaries that have happened while residents of two Clifton Park neighborhoods slept.
The incidents have occurred on recent weekends, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said Tuesday. Specifically, they are happening on Friday nights or early Saturday morning between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. in the Country Knolls West and Clifton Knolls neighborhoods.
The department is investigating three burglaries and four car break-ins in the two neighborhoods.
According to Capt. Jeff Brown with the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department, none of the crimes involved forced entry.
Burglars were able to enter homes through unlocked, attached garages, police said. Items stolen include electronics, like iPods and iPads. Credit cards and loose change were stolen from unlocked cars.
According to Brown, none of the homeowners woke up during the burglaries. They noticed items were missing the next morning.
Unlocked homes and cars are a common targets of opportunity, Brown said. The more troubling aspect of these cases is that burglars went into buildings while residents were home, he said.
"That's unusual and definitely more disturbing. It's definitely brazen," he said.
Police are reviewing security camera footage that shows people attempting to break into homes. They are also following other leads provided by residents, Brown said.
It was unclear, as of Tuesday, whether the break-ins were the work of one person or multiple burglars.
Police have advised homeowners to keep all of their doors locked and to report suspicious behavior in their neighborhoods.
"We're reviewing all the information that we've been provided by residents over the past two weeks,"Zurlo said. "It's something we'll follow."
Cliton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett confirmed the town was working with the Sheriff's Department in the investigation, but he would not provide further details. Barrett also cautioned people to keep all of their doors locked.
Melissa McNair, who lives on Hemlock Drive in Clifton Knolls, found out she was a victim after seeing reports of the burglaries on Nextdoor, a cellphone application that allows residents of an area to communicate within a private group of neighbors.
“As soon as I saw the post, I went outside and checked our vehicles,” she said.
When she got to her car, she saw the contents of the center console and glove box in one of the three cars on her property had been dumped around the car, though nothing had been taken. That car had been left unlocked the night before, but the other two cars were locked and were not tampered with, she said.
McNair added that a Locust Lane resident found a cellphone in her backyard over the weekend, and it is now part of the police investigation.
Ciara Hassenpflug, who lives in Clifton Knolls, across the street from the Barney Road Golf Course, said someone tried to break into her home at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, based on images captured by a security camera on the outside of her home.
The video, which Hassenpflug shared with The Daily Gazette, shows a person wearing a dark hat and clothes attempting to enter the home through the front door before leaving. The door was locked at the time.
Hassenpflug and her husband decided to purchase the camera recently so she and her 2-year-old daughter would feel safe when he was not home, she said.
She said she happened to scroll through the security footage later Saturday and, when she saw the images of the burglar, she called police.
Hassenpflug said thieves might be targeting the Clifton Knolls neighborhood because there are a lot of homes and minimal sources of light in the area.
"There's not a lot of streetlights," she said.
Hassenpflug said police told her about the other incidents in the area, and that thieves in general are becoming more aware of homeowners placing video cameras at or near their front doors.
"Thieves are getting smarter at noticing. Hopefully the police are working on it," she said.