North Valley city of Madera also experiencing "door kick-in" burglaries

FRESNO, Calif.

Action News told you Thursday about a rise in door kick-in burglaries in the South Valley, especially in Dinuba.

But the trend may be even worse in the North Valley, in Madera.

Police say the crimes have become a lot more frequent since the price of gold has gone up.

The kick-ins are happening all over Madera at a rate of about one a day and many neighborhoods have been hard hit.

Bars now cover the doors and windows at Harjeet Singh's Madera home.

Electronic eyes have also monitored the property since burglars hit while the family was away.

"Everything's locked down," Singh said. "We have a camera system installed and an alarm system and everything. Now, it kind of feels like a prison."

But the crooks themselves are not in prison.

They grabbed all the valuables they could find and took off before anyone spotted suspicious activity.

"I would estimate a typical burglary is under three minutes," said Madera police detective Daniel Foss. "They're in and they're out."

Foss says burglaries are skyrocketing, and one of the biggest trends is something they almost never saw until recently.

"It used to be if you left a window open or a door open, somebody would come in and steal your property," he said. "Now, they're much more -- the same crime -- but they're much more violent in that they're kicking front doors."

Foss says the burglars typically stake out a neighborhood, waiting for someone to leave.

Once they do, the crooks break down the door -- sometimes leaving marks like these.

Their targets are things they can easily hide -- like jewelry, cash and small, portable electronics.

Detectives say since the price of gold has climbed, burglars can net $300 for each break-in.

They say reinforced doors and locks can help, but the best way to stop burglars is to just keep your eyes open -- something victims like Singh learned the hard way.

"Sometimes I'll see a car parked somewhere over there like that truck," Singh said as two men sat in a parked pickup truck just down the street. "And I'll get really suspicious as to what's going on because, I mean, nowadays we're so alert."

That particular pickup didn't have a license plate.

But police say the best way to help them catch burglars in your neighborhood is to take down license plates or get pictures of vehicles you don't recognize.

Those can be a big help when they're investigating crimes.

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