When you think of Discovery Bay, most picture our smaller community with the warm Delta weekends and a friendly atmosphere wherever you go. But the last several months have been an unsettling time in Discovery Bay. Residents who come home from outings find their houses have been broken into with many valuables and personal belongs stolen.

And, these cases seem to be on the rise again. I have a number of friends who have been robbed in the last few months and talked with many others whose friends have been robbed. No longer are these crimes of opportunity with an open door or window, but the brazen thieves are now using pry bars to break into patio, side and back doors, during the day and at night.

Some homes are being robbed when the owners are only gone for a couple hours. Same holds true with the rash of wake board boats being stripped of all their amps, decks and speakers, along with other valuable equipment. It's happening in all the bays and at the yacht harbor. Bass boat owners are having very expensive engines and other electronic equipment stolen as well.

These thieves are coming in by boat after we are all sleeping. Although crime happens all over, we need to step up and protect our community. Remember five years ago when this was going on and we had more than 400 residents jammed into Discovery Bay Elementary School trying to figure out what to do?

So what should we all be doing starting today? With your homes: Lock all your doors, secure all windows with extra devises so they cannot be pried open, and set your alarms every time you leave. Close your window shades when leaving your home so thieves can't look into your house.

Have you been seeing those "sales persons" in your neighborhood at 1 p.m. in the afternoon lately? Guess what they may be doing? When you see them, don't ignore them like we all do. From now on, go up to them and find out who they are, where they live, what they are selling, get their price list with phone numbers and ask who they report to and call them for verification. Ask to see their credentials and lastly, take their picture with your cellphone and simply tell them "Smile, you look just like my cousin's friend Billy and I can't wait to show him your picture," just in case something happens in your neighborhood. It may be the link to catching these thieves.

Take everything out of your boats that you wish to use again once summer comes along. Yes, it takes a bit of effort to remove these items, but when you are robbed of your $10,000 sound system, left with stripped wires and broken fiberglass, and your insurance company depreciates your equipment at 20 percent per year, you will wish you took 15 minutes to remove it.

Go online as there are many boat security systems from $50 to $500 to help protect your valuables. Put motion detectors around your home and on your dock, and look out for your neighbor's home too. Make sure you lock your car doors at all times. Do not leave valuables in the car. And lastly, if you see anyone or any vehicle that seems out of character for your neighborhood, simply call the Sheriff's Office at 925-646-2441. They want to stop this crime as much as we do. Yes, it can happen to you too, so don't be the next victim. You've been warned!

Jim Mattison is a resident of Discovery Bay.