Apartment Building Manager Apparently Stops Thieves by Letting Them Know They’re Being Watched

Walking out with the goods on Sept. 9. (Building security camera)

The manager of an apartment building on Hacienda Place in West Hollywood appears to have brought to a halt a series of break-ins by warning the thieves that he’s watching them.

According to the manager, on four occasions two men entered the building and went to its downstairs laundry room to break into coin boxes. On each occasion they obscured the security camera lens, the first time with blue painters tape, the second time using lint from the clothes dryers, the third time with newspaper and scotch tape and the fourth time with a large surgical bandage. Because a digital video recorder for the security cameras was not working, the manager wasn’t able to capture photos of the men during the first three break-ins.

You’re being watched!

On their first visit, the men busted open the locked laundry room door and broke into the coin boxes, which the manager estimated contained a maximum of $40 in change. On subsequent visits they didn’t break the coin box, which had been replaced, but appeared to have forced it open in another way.

The final visit was a week ago Sunday around 8 a.m., when the digital video recorder system was working.

“They forced open the entry door, made their way to the laundry, covered the camera with a large surgical style band aid, and wandered around the garage, left the laundry room and headed to the lobby,” the manager said. (WEHOville agreed not to list the street address of the building or name the manager for safety reasons.)

The security video showed the larger of the two men, wearing what seemed to be a hospital scrub shirt, exiting the building with a black satchel that appeared to be weighted down with coins. The other man, dressed in what looked to be a maintenance worker uniform, was seen on video taking UPS packages from the building’s lobby mailbox area and placing them into a greenish sack.

The building manager used those images to create posters for the front door of the building, which is where the men apparently entered, that warned them in English and Spanish that they had been identified. The posters asked tenants to alert the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station if they saw the man and also included copies of a complaint filed with the Sheriff’s Station.

A change of mind (Building security camera)

This morning at 7:30 a.m. it was clear that the posters worked. According to the building manager, the security camera captured a man and woman getting out of a white car on the street and casually walking to the building’s front door. The man, wearing a hoodie and carrying a satchel, read the notice. They then made an about face and left.

The building manager said he reported the break-ins to the Sheriff’s Station, but felt the deputy he dealt with was dismissive because to him it seemed like a petty crime, which technically is one involving less than $950 in loss or damages.

The building manager views the thefts as more serious, given that the men entered the front door by force, removed laundry room door knob, disabled surveillance camera, broke four coin boxes costing $350 to repair and replace, stole coins and UPS packages and returned on four separate occasions.

That the thieves were able to enter the lobby through the locked front door suggests they may have used a key to the lobby. Use of such keys was an issue in a rash of mailbox break-ins in West Hollywood and elsewhere in Los Angeles in 2015 and 2016. What appeared to be an organized group of thieves used so-called Post Office master keys to open the front doors of apartment and condo buildings as well as open the front panel of the group of individual mailboxes. Such keys are used by postal delivery workers and were supposed to have been kept securely. In most apartment buildings, access to the front lobby gives one easy access to the rest of the building.

In May 2016, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it had replaced 600 master key locks since January of that year.


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T
T
3 years ago

“WEHOville agreed not to list the street address of the building or name the manager for safety reasons.”

Well you named the street, which is only a block long and showed photos that clearly showed which building it is. So much for safety..

Yvonne Santi
3 years ago

Marco,

I was told by 2 residents (3rd fl.) that she and her boyfriend were confronted by a women displaying scissors when they question her presence. He told her to get out and she ran out the back gated doors. I personally have noticed fingerprints on the windows of my car door (driver’s side). I won’t be taking my trash down at night anymore….too scary.

James Francis
James Francis
3 years ago

This is becoming very problematic. I have noticed even people on the streets in cars just hanging out or near establishments and they observe to see if people leave doors ajar unlocked or see if they can breach security. Unfortunately some residents accidentally leave front doors unlocked or insecure fir easy access or entry. But now this is scary abs concerning that people are forcibly breaking front doors into apartment complexes. Some residents doors aren’t as secured and now people could get access to mailboxes and worse apartments. Furthermore UPS and Fed Ex leave packages visible and are only required… Read more »

RobbyDobby
RobbyDobby
3 years ago

What a lot of work for such little return. How much can you get in quarters from a coin box, $30-40 bucks if your lucky. The vandalism and trespassing fines are in the hundreds of dollars. So much risk for so little return. What’s wrong with people? Why wast you’re time committing a crime that you could get into more trouble than it’s worth. Not that I’m suggesting people take up lives of crime that pays, it’s just such a petty crime that give such little return on the effort…

YOURMAMA
YOURMAMA
3 years ago

Illegal aliens. #MAGA

Cy Husain
3 years ago
Reply to  YOURMAMA

SHAMEFUL Dog Whistle Racism! The ONLY real “illegal aliens” were the Euro-invaders who committed genocide against the indigenous Americans, enslaved People of Color and their privileged descendants who continue to oppress others through established institutional racism. Making amends for this is what will make America great!

Jose
Jose
3 years ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

BS…used to try to ligitimize illegal aliens and their crime. Visa over stays are just as bad.

Cy Husain
3 years ago
Reply to  Jose

An example of dog whistle racism right there! The vast majority of crime in the United States is committed by people born here. Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime. The social-science research on immigration and crime is clear: Undocumented immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, with immigrants legally in the United States even less likely to do so. A number of studies published in the past several months clearly illustrate the consensus. The first study, published by the right-wing libertarian Cato Institute with the results in this case confirmed… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
3 years ago

In my condo building, I noticed two of our heavy metal screened gates, one to the garage laundry room, and one that goes to the side and back of our building, were tampered with. They somehow cut a small hole in the screen above the locks. However, since a key is needed to open the locks, not a handle on the inside, I guess they got nowhere. I would say this is the latest crime scenario, just like the mailbox, and bicycle ones, that previously occurred. Very organized, I would say.

jimmy palmieri
jimmy palmieri
3 years ago

I’m sad that the manager felt dismissed by the sheriff since it was a small amount of money. The bigger picture, if anyone thought it out for a half second, would be that the criminals broke into a residential building where any number of tenants or owners could have been harmed or worse. No one knows if these thieves are so desperate they might have weapons to use on anyone that may innocently interrupt their crime spree. #SMFGH

Cy Husain
3 years ago

WOW! Now I really consider this real ground breaking news worthy of national if not international press coverage, SERIOUSLY! 😲 Throughout the entire duration of my lifespan, I have NEVER known an apartment building manager to ever get off their morbidly obese posterior to do much of anything, even in the event of the tenant’s lives being in a clear and present danger. This is an excellent example (the only one I know) of the kind of good work that can be done by a responsible apartment building manager (I considered this term an example of an oxymoron before this… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
3 years ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

When a manager lives in the building, s/he has skin in the game.

Cy Husain
3 years ago
Reply to  Joshua88

True that the manager does have a serious interest in what is going on on the site when they actually live in the building but, I have experienced the situation many times that the resident manager 👿 is personal friends of the people who are causing problems and committing crimes.

someone like me
someone like me
3 years ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

Unfortunately, there is often a flip side to the kind of building manager who would catch this kind of activity, and that is the manager who is watching everything the tenants do, and is taking notes. He is in your business, and you never know when he is going to use what he knows against you. It’s nerve wracking!

Cy Husain
3 years ago

Actually the two problems are related, the building managers spend all their time harassing people like me all the time as opposed to doing their real job. As I pointed out in my first posting when stated that I want them to “do their job as opposed to obsessing about evicting me because some reactionary snow flakes are uncomfortable with my existence!” Most of the time it’s the building manager who is the only reactionary snow flake uncomfortable with my existence.

Marco Colantonio
Marco Colantonio
3 years ago

Thank you, Hank Scott/WEHOville for reporting this. With two sets of thieves, hitting a secure property on five different occasions in broad daylight, I assume they have been robbing laundry machines and stealing packages from neighboring buildings.

They seem like a pretty organized and determined “gang” of thieves.

Hopefully this article shakes the tree and gets people to report other incidents and garners more attention from the West Hollywood Sheriffs.

WEHOville is a valuable resource for community awareness and an informed community is a safer one.

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