A thief cleaned out the garage.

Miguel Lopez works in construction, an industry that has been suffering nationwide as part of the poor economy. Luckily for Lopez, his company has managed to attract several projects, and he is staying busy.

Along with his regular job, Lopez does tree work on the side.

“A little extra cash doesn’t hurt,” he says of his extra work.

Lopez kept a large collection of tools for his tree work and other projects in a detached garage at his home, where he has lived for 17 years. The garage had a few damaged exterior wooden panels, and a thief recently took advantage — removing the panels and making off with at least $3,000 worth of tools.

“They got me pretty good. I was pretty pissed off,” he says. “They took a lot of stuff.”

Among the missing tools were several saws, an air compressor and a router. Lopez has been so busy working that a few weeks after the crime, he still had not had time to take inventory all of the stolen tools to give to his insurance company.

The entire episode has been a huge frustration for him. Lopez has never before been a victim of crime, but now he feels like it’s happening all around him.

“I really have noticed that there has been a lot of crime in this area lately,” he says.

Dallas Police Lt. Gil Garza of the Southwest Patrol Division says that sheds and detached garages are prime targets for criminals.

“Unfortunately, this type of crime is common because sheds and detached garages are away from the home and easy access for thieves. People also use locks that are easily broken,” he says. “It’s easy money for people taking property.”

He recommends residents keep more expensive items only in garages attached to homes, and use heavy-duty locks on detached structures.

Keeping serial numbers and photos of expensive items can help police identify stolen property, Garza adds. Residents also can register and invoice their property at leadsonline.com, which has become a helpful tool to police tracking stolen goods, he says.