Thefts from offices are on the rise in downtown Salt Lake City, and officers are cautioning workers to be careful with their valuables.

In a 16-week period from October through mid-January, 121 "creeper" thefts of office equipment, purses, wallets and other items were reported in the area from South Temple to Second South and Second East to West Temple. And police Sgt. Jim Jensen said multiply the figure by four to find the actual number of thefts.People creep into the office, hence the term "creeper" thefts and pick up whatever they can. "They're out the door and nobody knows what happens."

"Statistically, nationwide only 15 to 25 percent (thefts from offices) are reported," Jensen said, adding, "that's big business."

"Probably the favorite target is the reception area in any business," said Jensen, administrative sergeant for the chief's office. "The secretary's duties call her away from the reception area."

Jensen said office workers can cut down on thefts several ways.

"No. 1, valuables shouldn't be hanging in areas the public has access to because if the public has access to it, the criminals do too."

Second is reporting any suspicious persons entering the office with no business or appointments, Jensen said.

"When you say, `Good morning. Who are you here to see?' that does not offend the legitimate patron. What it does to the criminal, who is already a little paranoid, is it puts them in the uncomfortable position of justifying their presence."

Jensen urges workers to call the cops if suspicious people - those who have no business in the office and have flimsy excuses or made up names of appointments - appear at the door.

And letting police know thefts occur can help track down what are the favorite rip-off spots. "More often then not, when a theft is reported, it's reported the next day. When they do notify us the trail is cold and there's nothing we can do about it."