The Victoria Police Department is warning condominium owners and apartment renters of a “sophisticated” scheme thieves are using to break into parkades.
Thieves are using the intercom system on the outside of apartment buildings to access underground parkades, mainly in the Burnside area, but not exclusively.
Police say they use some sort of tool to remove the faceplate of the intercom panel, accessing the wires, which they then hot-wire to open the door.
Not only can they open the door, but VicPD believes they are manipulating the system to create their own access codes.
“Not only can they get in on that day, but they can come back later,” said Cst. Cam MacIntyre, spokesperson for the VicPD.
“In some cases, they’re able to put the faceplate back on, so it looks like there’s no damage to it.”
In the last two months, there have been five, either complete or attempted, break and enters and VicPD says it’s not just one person. Multiple people are trying to get in the same doorway
“It’s pretty sophisticated, it’s a different sort of level of crime,” said Cst. MacIntyre.
He says so far, the thieves are not targeting suites.
“Typically, once they have access to the main lobby, they go straight to the parkade, and they’re breaking into cars and storage lockers.”
This is not the first time there has been a string of break-ins into underground parkades in Victoria.
Police say a few months ago, thieves opened the doors by punching in a bunch of different numbers into the intercoms, as some master codes are relatively simple.
Thieves were also gaining access a few months back by waiting by the parkade entrances until a car came and opened the doors. The suspects then sneaked in, following the vehicle.
VicPD is recommending all building managers to look at the security of their panel, and to make sure the master code is not easily figured out. Some managers have installed a security bar so the panel cannot be pried off.
Police are highly recommending the installation of video surveillance, and if you have it, to make sure it works and is turned on.
“Video surveillance is important. It’s been challenging to conduct an investigation on these break-ins. We’re not able to collect any info to identify any suspects,” said Cst. MacIntyre.
For residents living in an apartment or condo, VicPD recommends doing a quick shoulder check when you drive in, to make sure no one has followed you in.
“If you see someone prowling around, looking suspicious, that is absolutely a reason call to police. Break and enters to underground parkade and theft from auto, that’s a big issue for us. We see a lot of that in Victoria,” said Cst. MacIntyre.
He also said to make sure nothing valuable is left in your car, and to make sure the doors are locked, even in a secure, underground parkade.
Police say thieves don’t typically break into vehicles hoping they’ll find something valuable. Typically, VicPD says they only break in if they happen to have already seen something they want to take.
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