Burglars hit same home twice, gain access using stolen garage door opener

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Crooks have discovered a new way to break homes and they’re using something most people probably rely on every day.

A family in Federal Way became victims twice in one week.

The victim said the crooks stole both his house keys and car keys. The homeowner thought he did the right thing by re-keying everything. But he didn’t expect the thieves to come back and use his garage door opener to try for a second score.

“These guys were a step ahead of me the whole time,” said burglary victim Derek Marino. “It’s kinda scary, you know?”

Marino said he’s now sleeping downstairs after burglars got inside twice -- first stealing from the cars inside his garage and taking valuables from the kitchen counter.

But after the first burglary, Marino said he didn't notice that something else was missing from inside his car.

“They must have had a garage door opener,” he said.

Marino said he didn’t consider that his garage door opener could be used as a key for crooks to easily gain access to his home.

But police say it’s nothing new.

“They’re not completely foolproof,” said Cathy Schrock with the Federal Way Police Department.

Police are reminding homeowners to never leave a garage door opener inside a car – instead treat it like a key to your front door, and take it with you.

“We know a lot of times that interior door, that’s one of those barriers that we don’t think about because you think the garage door is protecting you,” said Schrock.

For Marino, he’s just hoping the crooks will have a change of heart and return the memory card from the stolen camera where priceless images of family and friends are otherwise gone forever.

“No questions asked,” he said. “Return the card; you can have the rest of the stuff.”

Police have not made any arrests in either of Marino’s cases but investigators have managed to get a set of fingerprints.