Seattle police say burglars have been breaking into emergency key boxes, used by building inspectors and emergency personnel, to gain entry to apartment buildings around the city.
A suspect (one of a group of 12) was alone responsible for 500 burglaries city-wide (100 have since been cleared) using the below described technique for accessing master keys to apartment buildings.
The suspects are finding it easy to get into the “emergency use only” red key boxes that are used by the city elevator inspectors. The boxes are easily breached using a screw driver or small pry bar.
After speaking with the city elevator inspectors and supervisors they agreed the box currently being used does not properly secure the keys needed for elevator inspections. Additionally, property owner need to be educated to leave only the elevator and/or utility room access keys inside the box and not the master keys to the building.
The modus operandi of this burglary style can be curtailed with city departments using a secured key box of the Knox-Box style along with both city inspectors and patrol officers educating apartment building owners/managers not to place “master keys” in the boxes and only specific elevator/utility room keys.
We’ve heard from department sources that the “500 cases” number might be a bit inflated, but we’re checking into it and we’ll update with more info on this case when we get it.