We had always thought of our snug Upper West Side non-doorman building as a fairly safe place. Aside from a longrunning fraud by our former managing agent—who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars over many years and was eventually dispatched to Rikers Island—nothing felony-worthy had occurred here at least since we bought our apartments back in 2003.
Then came the facade and roof repair project. Soon after scaffolding went up in front of our building, a friendly guy in work clothes entered through the basement door used by the crew. He chatted up workers and a couple of residents, claiming that he had come to remove some air conditioners on the roof so the work could proceed. Instead, he broke into the bathroom window of a penthouse apartment and ransacked it in broad daylight. He was never caught.
A detective on the case told us that scaffolding is a Help Wanted sign for professional thieves who target apartment buildings doing construction.
Here are some preventive measures we learned the hard way:
• Institute an identification system for workers—like badges or tags—so that residents and building employees can spot someone who doesn’t belong.
• Train the staff to monitor IDs and ask residents to report the presence of anyone without the proper ID.
• Hire a security guard to monitor the entrance used by the work crew.
• To guard against thieves using the scaffolding itself to gain access, consider installing razor wire and an alarm.
• Caution residents to lock windows onto terraces accessible to work crews to discourage crimes of opportunity.
Do you have any crime prevention tips? What other types of crimes have occurred in your building and how might they have been prevented?