Crooks use fire alarms to steal from people living in apartments

SEATTLE -- Crooks are pulling fire alarms to get people in apartments out of their buildings, and then stealing items from unlocked units, police say.

Seattle police are investigating at least seven similar cases where fire alarms were engaged in apartment buildings. Police reports say victims left their units unlocked to get out of the building during the fire alarm. The reports say when the victims returned, items were missing.

Victims reported laptops, packages, wallets, and credit cards missing. In at least two of the incidents, credit cards were used within a few hours of the crime to make fraudulent purchases.

One report says a victim’s card was used at Nordstrom, 7-Eleven, and Great Steaks, all downtown, before she could cancel the cards.

“We’re both dead asleep and suddenly the alarms go off,” said Kris Griebe.

Griebe left his apartment unlocked but says luckily nothing was taken. He says he got an email the next day from his complex warning about the situation.

“It makes you feel a little less safe, a little less secure,” he said.

Kat Griebe says the idea of someone stealing their possessions is terrifying, but it’s even worse to know that apartments are being targeted.

"It’s creepier to think that there is a team of people going around the city trying to do this sort of thing, and it’s that easy that they would have a string of successes,” said Griebe.

Police say they are looking for two suspects: a man and woman. However, they have not released any more identifying information.

Police say they are looking through surveillance video but have not released any pictures or videos.