Calgary police are warning homeowners to be vigilant after more than 600 residential break-ins were reported in the first quarter of the year.

The figure represents a 29 per cent spike from the same time last year, police said. 

Leslie Evans, executive director of the Federation of Calgary Communities, says locking doors and windows, maintaining the house exterior, and getting to know your neighbours are all steps that help reduce property crime.

"When there's eyes on the street, people on the street, crime doesn't take hold. So if people are out walking their dogs or in their yards, or just out and about in their community, crime goes down."

University thefts tend to leap in fall

Police say there's a pattern of break and enters increasing in the summer, but at universities, officials say thefts are more likely to occur in the fall.

"Students aren't in a routine yet," said Mark Keller from Mount Royal University's Residence Services.

"They're not used to maybe locking their doors, maybe they haven't been away from home before, there's more people on campus," he said.

MRU student Thomas Kennedy says he learned the hard way from the one time he didn't lock his dorm room.

"I didn't think I would be gone [too] long… I come back and all my stuff was gone," Kennedy said.

His camera, laptop, smartphone and several other belongings were swiped.

For Kennedy, it's a simple strategy to avoid a repeat scenario.

"For sure [I'll] lock my doors every time I leave. I guess that's all I can do," he said.

Broken window theory

Evans says avoiding the "broken window theory" can also help reduce theft.

"If you've got something dilapidated on your back alley or a broken-down car in your driveway, people will see that as an indication of potential opportunity."

Police are asking residents to ensure their home, garage and vehicles are locked. Anyone who sees suspicious activity should contact police or Calgary Crime Stoppers.

With files from Stephanie Wiebe