A couple of days ago, thieves went into a car in a Georgetown driveway, pocketed some small change and found a garage door opener. They used it to open the garage and proceeded to take the bicycles from inside.

The incident, which occurred some time between late Friday and early Saturday was one more in an increasing number of bicycle thefts that has plagued the Washington area in the past few months. Many of these have occurred in upscale sections, including McLean, parts of Arlington, and Georgetown.

The Georgetown theft, which occurred on Volta Place NW, came in a neighborhood which, according to police, has seen a dramatic increase in the past two months of a particular kind of burglary — one in which thieves enter residential garages and make bikes their primary target.

The crimes appear to coincide to a degree with an increasing emphasis in the Washington area on bicycles as an inexpensive means of transportation, as healthy exercise and as a combination of the two.

Although bicycling is regarded as an inexpensive way of getting to work or school, bicycles themselves are not necessarily cheap.

Prices for some brands of new bicycles start just below $1,000 and may go as high as $3,000.

Although specific figures for the number of bikes taken in Georgetown were not immediately available, police in Fairfax County cited an increase of about 36 percent. Fairfax police said that in one recent 12-month period there were 361 bike thefts, compared with 265 in the 12 months immediately before that.

In addition, police said that in the McLean area, 86 bicycles had been taken, apparently in the most recent 12 months studied.

Police found the same sort of vulnerability to bike theft in both Georgetown and McLean.

In Georgetown, police said, a substantial portion of the stolen bicycles have been removed from unlocked garages.

Residents were asked to make certain that their garage doors are locked.

In McLean, Fairfax police said,”many of the bikes are taken when residents leave their garage doors open.” They said that thieves “simply seize the opportunity, take the bikes and walk away.”