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Seattle spending $500,000 to re-key lock boxes after burglaries

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SEATTLE — Cops say they’ve got at least one of the suspects in a rash of Seattle apartment burglaries.

Exactly how the suspect got inside now has the Seattle Fire Department investigating, too.

KNOX BOX BURGLARIESIt has to do with a device called Knox box, sort of like Fort Knox.  You find them on apartment and commercial buildings as they’re required by law.

Inside the small, wall-mounted safe you’ll find master keys to the building, but they’re supposed to only be accessible to Seattle firefighters in case of an emergency.

Somehow, a burglar got his hands on a key of his own.

Seattle police say 42-year-old Norman Bottem also had a key even though he’s never worked for the Fire Department.

Investigators say Bottem burglarized a minimum of three Seattle apartment buildings since April.

Surveillance video led to Bottem’s arrest.

The Seattle Fire Department says as many as 40 other Knox boxes throughout the city have been compromised.

Residents at the burgled apartments say it’s time to re-think the lock-and-key security.

“Maybe it’s time to replace it with something more robust,” said Bryce Roche. “Clearly it’s not working.”

Bottem has lengthy criminal history ranging from felony burglary to misdemeanor drug possession.

He was out on $10,000 bail after pleading guilty to first-degree theft, but now he’s back in the King County Jail.

Now SFD is spending some $500,000 to re-key all of the Knox boxes across the city.

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