SPOKANE, Wash. -

Having a home in the country can offer great views of wildlife and lots of peace and quiet, but now that all comes at the expense of a spike in burglaries.

Break-ins in unincorporated SpokaneCountyhave jumped 53-percent from this time last year.

Homeowners hope for just a little more separation from their neighbors is making it easier for burglars to go unnoticed.

Bob Travis and his wife assumed their place would be safe in broad daylight. They even took their dogs with them while running errands in town, but when they got home, "We walked into the main floor and there was stuff tipped over, stuff on the floor stuff on the floor that shouldn't have been there."

Travis says the thieves broke out this window on the back side of his house, unlocked the door and walked inside. The burglars systematically searched each room for valuables but passed on the big screen TV for easier to carry items like portable electronics.

"They took Xbox, iPods, they took a computer, it was a Hewlett-Packard laptop, they took a bunch of jewelry," Travis said.

Detectives think the price of gold and silver may be the driving force behind the increase in burglaries. Instead of having to show their ID when fencing a stolen drill at a pawnshop, thieves who steal jewelry can anonymously cash it in through the mail.

With gold selling for $1,600 an ounce burglars can now afford to take their time and case entire neighborhoods before making their move.

"I think they have been watching our neighborhood. I've heard other neighbors have been broken into further south of us and I think somebody is in the area, watching what we're doing and when we come and go," Travis said.

Spokane County Sheriff deputies say Block Watch signs are only effective if neighbors are actually looking out for each other. They say people shouldn't hesitate to write down the license plates of suspicious vehicles and give their detectives a chance to track down this latest group of burglars.