Chatting with a friend led to the burglary of an expensive power tool.

Rick Walters was doing some woodwork in his detached garage, when a friend stopped by to talk. A contractor who does home renovations exclusively in Oak Cliff, Walters walked into his Kessler Park home for about 10 minutes with his friend, knowing he would return to his work shortly.

That was all a burglar passing by needed: an open garage and short amount of time to grab something and leave. In the span of those 10 minutes, a burglar made off with Walters’s DeWalt miter saw, valued at more than $400.

“A neighbor actually saw the guy do it and yelled at him, and then he called the police,” Walters says.

The suspect ran to his car and drove away — stolen saw in tow. The loss is not the first burglary experience for Walters, who estimates he has had $6,000 to $10,000 in tools stolen in the last four years from job sites or his home.

“My vehicle was once broken into in my front driveway,” he says. “I’ve sort of become desensitized to it. It’s enormously frustrating.”

Dallas Police Deputy Chief Rick Watson of the Southwest Patrol Division says criminals look for even the briefest chance to steal, and an open garage was a perfect target.

“These individuals that drive the streets, they’re looking for an opportunity to go into an open garage,” Watson says. “And all it takes is one or maybe two minutes at the most. They go in, grab something, and get out.”

He encourages residents to always keep their garage doors closed when they are not in either their garages or their front yards. Even leaving the garage open for a short time can lead to a burglary.

“If you’re not going to be out there in the front, you’re not going to be able to watch it. Keep it closed; that’s the best thing,” Watson says.

Residents are encouraged to call police if they notice anyone suspicious in their neighborhoods, and get good complete descriptions of suspects including height, weight, tattoos, hair color and style, and car makes, models and colors. Watson says criminals are more prone to stay away from neighborhoods where residents are quick to call police about suspicious people.