BERKLEY - Potential homebuyers are not the only ones checking out properties for sale in the city of Berkley, they are also catching the attention of thieves.
Police here in Berkley are keeping a close eye on the housing market. It seems the for sale signs in this community are giving a new meaning to the term 'open house'. Thieves have been targeting vacant homes in the city.
The people who live here love it here. Patty Cunningham selling her Berkley home says, "It’s a lovely quiet quaint town."
As a city, Berkley is only two and a half square miles and because of this neighbors are maybe a little too relaxed here.
"We are learning that right now, with the recent rash of home invasions and break-ins," says Cunningham.
Since August, a reported two dozen homes in the area have been broken into.
One thing they seem to have in common is the fact that they are empty. They are either vacant or for sale with the seller no longer staying at the house.
Once inside, police say they are going after copper pipes which would explain why older neighborhoods are being targeted.
Cunningham says, "there is trouble crawling around and it is crawling around Berkley and it is crawling around St. John Woods let's look out for one another."
This has gotten the attention of those who still have their homes on the market as well as the police.
"The police are driving by, very strong presence now, where they were not in the past," says Cunningham.
Even real estate agents say it's something they now have to be aware of.
Real estate agent Ali Berry of Quest Reality says, "This is surprising to us that we are having this problem, you do not normally see it this concentrated." "It seems like whoever is doing this does not care about the consequences."
One piece of advice from the seller's perspective be careful if you post empty house pictures online. If you are moving out, you might be better off taking pictures before you remove the furniture.
"It's really going to help deter them because these pictures are public information where people can go on and see," says Berry. "Also if you are taking things out it is a good idea to stage it."
Police say these crimes of opportunity are often put to an end when neighbors do what they can to help one another.
"Probably the biggest thing is to have a sense of community, everyone look out and inform people if you leaving the home vacant," says Berry.
"It's a bad thing and good, it increases awareness and we needed that to be there anyways," says Cunningham.
We spoke with one neighbor who says police have been going around informing those selling their houses of what is happening. They are also telling the neighbors, just so they have an extra set of eyes keeping watch.
At this point, police have a lot of tips and people are reporting suspicious cars and things of that nature, but so far no arrests.