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“Show & Sell” – The ridiculousness of Condo Security
Date: 27.08.2016
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 True Story

Monday morning @ 0745 hours, I got out of my condo apartment, took the elevator down to P1 and walked to my car, with the usual tunnel vision and early morning emails on my mind.

As I neared my parking spot, I noticed that my front-driver window looked open. Weird, I never forget to close my windows…OK…

Small pieces of glass scattered around the parking spot…something happened…looking around…WHAT? MY CAR GOT VANDALISED???? As this was kicking in, I leaned on the car, and noticed….”AND MY ROOF RACK IS MISSING”????

IN A CONDOMINIUM THAT HAS 24-7 SECURITY????????? WHAT? NO! HOW? HOW THE HELL??????

Immediately up I went, to see the concierge, who had a whole pile of people in the lobby with similar stories….MULTIPLE VANDALISM IN A CONDOMINIUM PARKING LOT.

Analysis

I began making inquiries, and was immediately met with “Yeah, this needs to be put through your insurance”. HWAT?? I mean, yes, it does, but that is not the answer to the problem….that’s like saying that seniors bullied on a public bus should just “Yeah, go see a doctor”….

A general email from Property Manager arrived later that day telling us to file a police report. Some residents were immediately full of confidence…”Yeah, Police will get them and make them pay”…I was more reserved, hoping that there was some useful surveillance footage that was captured, giving the cops some proper leads. But so be it. Police report – Filed.

On and on, for 3 days I kept asking for status updates, and meeting with the same “Security is still reviewing the footage, you know there is so much of it and we only have one guard on duty”….Well, OK, but for this occurrence, shouldn’t an extra officer be called on duty to allow for footage to be reviewed quickly? Time is of the essence. Assuming that the guard company charges 20/guard/hour, then for 12 hours it’s only going to cost $250…can at least this be done for the residents?? The answer I got here was “You need to be patient and let us deal with it”….

Unable to sleep, and curious on what additional measures the condo is taking, I went out in the evenings and nights to walk around the condo perimeter and parking, noting times….I noted that the number of patrols or just basic guard presence in the parking garage and exterior areas did not increase whatsoever in the aftermath of the night of vandalism. It actually DECREASED, as the night guard was stuck at the concierge desk and was reviewing surveillance footage…One must question – how effective is the night-shift guard’s ability to meticulously review hours of surveillance footage? Let’s not play pretend here, the guard was holding his head trying to stay awake.

Finally, 5 days later, I was asked to attend the Property Management Office – where I heard that although some activity was captured by surveillance, it is not clear, and as there is no camera that records vehicle license plates, there is really nothing further that the Condo Board and Property Management can do in “this unfortunate event”, which is the first of its kind in 5 years. I should be comforted to know, they said, that other condo buildings in the area were also hit by this wave of vandalism.

ARE YOU PEOPLE KIDDING ME??

Key Players:

Condo Security is a “Show & Sell” stunt of biblical dimensions. The following summarises the actors and their seemingly impo(r)tent roles:

Board of Directors

Are residents just like me, so they cannot be blamed for anything, especially, as they say, since they are unpaid to do “this thankless job” of ruling over the condo.

Property Management
Will only act as told by the board. Should hire security consultants qualified to give advice on security measures appropriate for the condo. In most cases, chooses not to for cost-saving reasons and failure to see value.

Manages several condo buildings in the GTA, but does not have an alert system to advise/alert their property managers of crimes/issues/best practices in its managed properties. I was told that putting such as system means taking on liability for when this system does not perform as intended….(I am shaking my hand in dismay…can’t even…)

Security Guard Company

Will do only as told by the property manager. With 1 guard per shift, and an account manager who is not involved in day-to-day condo operations, the company is not able to consult on best practices and solutions for the condo (if it is even capable of offering such a service).

Insurance Company – Condominium

Does not cover residents’ personal property.

Insurance Company – Vehicle

Deductible amounts making it unworthy of claiming damages under $600.00/claim.

Insurance Company – Property

Does not cover Vehicles parked in the garage.

Solutions

I believe that the current, “Limited Liability” situation is not sustainable. Yes, it works…for now…but if these incidents are going to continue occurring, people will not want to live in high-rise neighbourhoods, where they pay hefty maintenance fees to have the expectation of living a secure/anonymous lifestyle. This would reduce the property/investment value of the units and this means trouble for residents.

The residents will take their frustration out on the Board. The Board will go to the Property Management and demand solutions.

It is ultimately in the capable and responsible hands of the Property Management company to solve this. Very few Property Managers have facility security background, and almost all of them act out of good intention, but good intention is unlikely to be enough to address such issues as random vandalism in secure parking garages.

I say flat out – if there are any property managers reading this article – please, get a few hours with a security consultant to go over your program. It is NOT going to cost you much, and it is a benevolent act and a sound investment.

Here are a few tips from me:

  • Install a security camera that captures license plates of every vehicle that goes in, and out of the garage. This will give the best lead for police investigators when s___ hits the fan.
  • Ensure FOBs can access ONLY the floor where the resident lives…self-explanatory.
  • Give your security guard a cell-phone to carry at all times. There is no need for a landline at the concierge desk. If the guard is alone on shift, and needs to patrol the building, test pool water levels, or do a unit-unlock, how would residents needing (sometimes urgent) assistance get a hold of him if he does not carry a phone?
  • When an incident happens, get an additional security guard to assist with daily duties while the regular guard has the opportunity to thoroughly review surveillance footage and quickly turn over the findings to police. The longer you delay submitting something to police, the fewer chances remain for the case to be solved.
  • Place signs that the property is under surveillance for safety and security purposes. This is both a deterrent, and an act of compliance to the PIPEDA.

 

Safe shift to all, and please, for my sake, do another round of patrol at the parking level!

 

Alex Goldstein

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