RENTON, Wash. — The Renton Police Department is dealing with a recent rash of home burglaries in the north Renton and south Newcastle area.
So far, the department is investigating 14 reports. Investigators are concerned because the crimes are happening while people are home; in some cases, children were asleep in their beds.
It’s a neighborhood that residents usually describe as safe. But along Park Avenue in Renton, burglars have them thinking twice.
“It’s concerning, and the fact there’s a string of them makes one think maybe they’re working in groups,” said Laura Knutson, a neighbor.
Debbie Melby is one victim whose car was ransacked weeks ago.
“I thought that somebody in the house had done it, and now I’m just more cautious about locking my doors,” said Melby.
Renton police said the thieves are getting bolder. They've moved from targeting cars to homes, all while people are inside.
“One of the scariest things about this is that this is happening in the middle of the night,” said Terri Vickers, the Community Programs Coordinator with Renton police.
“In one of the cases, the suspect removed a screen from a window and crawled into a window where three children were sleeping.”
Investigators said the thieves enter unlocked doors or open windows. So far, no one has been hurt, but they fear it’s only a matter of time.
“Anything can happen when a suspect is in your home, when they are brazen enough to go into a house when they know people are sleeping, clearly they are willing to take risks,” said Vickers.
Renton police said it is possible that more incidents have gone unreported, with the owners thinking they misplaced their property without considering someone entered their home.
It’s unclear if the same person is responsible for all the burglaries, but police did indicate there is a pattern in the crimes. They said they aren't ruling out a group of people working together to commit these acts.
The biggest piece of advice police want to pass on is for people to lock doors and windows, even if tempted to keep windows open as the weather gets warmer.