DENVER - Victims of recent break-ins in the Highlands area unknowingly helped police arrested the suspected thief.
Police are warning residents about more than 80 vehicle break-ins in northwest Denver since June.
7NEWS found out that in seven of the thefts, the crook used the garage door opener to break into the home's garage and steal more items.
Police told 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger that the items stolen included bikes, iPads and a rifle.
It turns out those items are what also helped catch the suspect.
"One of the things that's been really helpful in regards to our citizens here in the Highlands, is that many of them have tracked their own serial numbers," said Denver Police detective Mylous Yearling. "Many times we can find a match that allows us to find the item and recover it, and also gives us information on a suspect."
7NEWS learned that the suspect sold some of the items. Police got their hands on those items and traced the serial numbers.
Highlands resident Gordon Stone had his garage broken into last week after a thief broke into his wife's car.
"We figured out that the guy had got into her car and pushed the garage door opener, opened the garage door and then took off with two bikes," said Stone.
He found the paperwork from when he bought the bikes and reported the serial numbers to police.
"I had gotten an email from the District 1 community officer the week before this, saying there'd been a rash of break-ins and to go enter your serial numbers of bikes; specifically bike thefts," said Highlands resident Gordon Stone. "I didn't do it right at the time, but then, you know, three days later our bikes got stolen and I was just lucky enough to have the serial numbers."
Friday, police confirmed an arrest in connection with the break-ins, but said the suspect may not be the only thief.
"I'm pretty sure it's not one person," said Yearling.
Many of the "unusually high number" of thefts from motor vehicles cases happened in neighborhoods west of Federal Boulevard, according to a post on the Denver Police Department's District 1 Facebook page. District 1 covers the northwest corner of the city.
Police gave residents and businesses these simple steps to help officers catch the crooks and to protect cars from break-ins.
--"Practice crime prevention -- DO NOT LEAVE ITEMS OF VALUE IN YOUR CAR. Items such as GPS units, Cellphones, tablets, purses, wallets, gym bags and firearms are but some of the high value items thieves are looking for."
--"Be aware of suspicious activity in your area -- DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE POLICE. If you see someone breaking into a vehicle or some situation that seems suspicious -- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Be aware that majority of car break-ins happen during hours of darkness when residents are in their homes or have parked the car at a business or an event venue. We need you to be our 'Eyes & ears!'"
Residents were advised to call 911 if they see someone breaking into a vehicle or home or to call the department's non-emergency number, 720-913-2000, if they see any suspicious activity but are unsure if it's a crime in progress.