Some neighbors in the Bethany area of Washington County say burglars are continuing to steal garage door openers from cars and use them to break into homes.
In October, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported 15 such burglaries in a span of a week and a half. While reported break-ins have slowed down "dramatically," according to the Sheriff’s Office, the department has still received a few new reports since the beginning of November.
In what appears to be the most recent occurrence, a woman reported in a Bethany-area newsletter email that a burglar entered a car at her home and retrieved the garage door opener. After using the opener to gain access to the home, the burglar reportedly stole wallets, a passport, and a key, among other items.
John Peterson, who lives in Bethany, was the victim of a similar crime in September. His family accidentally left one of their cars unlocked in their driveway, making it easy for a burglar to use a garage door opener they had left in the car. Peterson says the crook ended up making off with one of his expensive, high-end bicycles.
"It was a little bit of panic at first," Peterson said after learning of the crime. "It's inside your personal property. It doesn't feel good."
"I want the word to get around to everybody to be aware that this is going on in the Bethany area," said Gordy Gorchau, another neighbor.
A WCSO spokesman said that no arrests have been made related to the cases. The burglaries didn’t show signs of forced entry and were crimes of "opportunity," a spokesman said. Residents are reminded to lock their cars when at home.