Burglar uses master key to get into Capitol Hill apartment building

SEATTLE -- Police are trying to figure out how a thief was able to get into an apartment building on Capitol Hill. It appears he had a master key that let him into the lobby. He then broke into an emergency lock box, and stole more keys.

Residents of the Gatsby Apartments in Capitol Hill say building managers told them about the break-in.

“They sent an email and informed us,” says Miriam Berger. “I wasn’t really worried, it didn’t really bother me.”

“I’m not overly concerned,” Michael Ong adds. “Obviously you don’t want people breaking into the place where you live, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it, given that we live in the city.”

But when you look at the surveillance video, you can see this is no ordinary break-in. When the suspect first approaches the building, he takes out a key and uses it to open the callbox by the front door.

Investigators say keys like that are usually used by postal workers, so they can activate a switch and get access to the building. They don’t know how this suspect got that key, but seconds later he is able to walk in the front door. What he did inside is even more alarming.

“One of the things that he did get access to is what we refer to as a fire box,” says retired Seattle police detective Myrle Carner of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound. “He was able to pry that open and take a set of master keys.”

Twenty minutes later, the suspect walks up to the building again. This time he uses an electronic fob to let himself in. He doesn’t get into any apartments, but he does go through several storage lockers and steals tools and some other items from the building maintenance shop.

“What is he going to do if he gets entrance again, we don’t know,” says Carner. “But the fact is this guy is loose and the chance of him coming back are pretty good.”

Q13 Fox News was not able to get in touch with building managers Thursday night. But some residents say they have increased security measures since the break-in.

“It seems like they’ve taken all the necessary precautions, they’ve changed all the master key codes,” says Ong. “They’ve somehow shut down that key fob. So it seems like they’re doing all they can do.”

But the only way to make everyone feel completely safe is to catch this suspect, so he can’t return again. If you recognize him, you’re asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.