Thieves Use Vehicle Burglaries to Access Homes

If a thief breaks into your vehicle he may get away with more than just your stereo; he could get access to your home.

If you combine personal information kept in our vehicles (i.e. registration, insurance) with something like a garage door opener, it's an invitation for thieves to take their crime spree from your vehicle to your home.

That's what happened to one Topeka family, which wants to remain anonymous, this month.

The wife was having lunch with her husband one afternoon in Topeka, only to find when they left that someone had broken into their SUV and rifled through their stuff.

"Everything was strung all over the place," she said. Her husband drove the SUV that day and noticed a Home Depot gift card was missing, but didn't notice anything else.

"He went to Home Depot to try to cancel the card." While the husband took care of cancelling the gift card, the people who broke into the family's vehicle had gone to the couple's house, used their garage door opener to get inside, and made off with about $10,000 of their stuff.

The couple says their neighbor saw the whole thing and got a description of the man and woman who were robbing them, but because they had a garage door opener thought they were friends of the homeowners.

"If you see any suspicious activity - whether you think it's relevant or not - you have to call the police department," Sgt. Lance Feyh of the Topeka Police Department.

Topeka Police say this type of crime is something people need to be more aware of.

"If you leave something like that very visibly in the open, then that just allows somebody that opportunity," said Feyh. "If they have to break the window they may do that to get the garage door opener."

The people who robbed the Topeka family tried to use the stolen Home Depot gift card the day after they broke into the couple's vehicle. Home Depot caught them on surveillance video.

Topeka detectives have watched the video. They have suspects in the case that they are focused on and are conducting interviews with.

Police say watch out for your neighbors. If you see a suspicious vehicle or someone entering the house when they're not home, call police to check it out. Better safe than sorry.

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Topeka Police are encouraging people to "Record It, Report It, Recover It," by marking high dollar items with an invisible ink pen called Identi-Pen. Also, take inventory of your things, recording the model, make and serial number.

These steps help if you were to get things stolen, authorities can compare pawn shop items, and items recovered by other means, with your stolen checklist.


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