If you've ever lived in rural America, you know that it was a badge of honor to say that you never locked your doors.

Parked at the local diner? Leave your car doors unlocked. Off to bed at night? Leave your house unlocked? Got a nice car? No biggie, just leave your garage door unlocked or even open.

But that was then, and this is now. And even if you live in smaller towns like Veyo, Kanab or Parowan, it's time to make things a little bit tougher on criminals.

"Many criminals are lazy or are just looking for an easy target," said St. George Police Department's Tiffanie Mitchell. "I'm still shocked sometimes at how many people don't bother locking their doors, or just forget."

A classic example is when you want to go for a hike. Amazingly, people will leave their vehicles alone for hours near a trailhead with the doors unlocked or even the windows open. Some even leave valuables (purse, wallet, cell phone, etc.) sitting on the front seat.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office has noted that these "easy" crimes are happening more and more often and is offering these tips to help keep you from getting ripped off:

  1. Lock your vehicle doors. It may seem simple but you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t happen.
  2. Even with your vehicle locked, don’t leave valuables inside if possible. You can make it easy for a fast smash-and-grab if people can see your wallet or purse just hanging out. Or someone can break in and take your wallet or purse if it’s hidden. If you find a backpack uncomfortable on a short hike, it might be time to be like The Rock and sport that fanny pack! (Hey, he pulled it off.)
  3. Dress for the weather and bring enough water. If it’s hot, a small plastic bottle from Wal-Mart might not be enough. What if something happens and you get lost or injured? Did you bring enough water and food to make it until Search and Rescue can find you? Our nights get very cold -- did you bring enough clothing to be comfortable if something happens? Plan ahead.
  4. So everyone can enjoy the trails please don’t leave trash on the trails. Also remember, you are responsible for keeping control of your dog while on the trails. Please clean up after your pooch and keep them on a leash. This is for their safety as well. There are furbearing traps out there off the trail and the trapper can not be held liable for your dog disturbing the trap and becoming injured.

We'd like to live in a world where we could all leave our doors and windows unlocked, but discretion, as always, is the better part of valor.

LOOK: Here are the best small towns to live in across America


More From KDXU 890 & 92.5