Toronto·Video

Riverdale condo dwellers upset after thief steals master key, then $5K bike

Residents of a Riverdale condo are concerned for their safety after a thief stole the master key to their building from a fire safety box in what the condo board is calling a major security breach.

Condo board president is calling the theft of the key a major security breach

Security camera video from a Riverdale condo shows a thief entering the building, stealing the master key from a fire safety box, then entering a storage locker, where he steals a bicycle worth more than $5,000. (CBC)

Residents of a Riverdale condo are concerned for their safety after a thief stole the master key to their building Monday in what the condo board is calling a major security breach.

The key was located in what is known as a fire safety box. The thief used the key to enter a storage locker, where he stole a bicycle estimated to be worth more than $5,000.

Jason Agnew, president of the board at the condo in Toronto's east end, said the condo may have to spend between $30,000 to $40,000, maybe more, to change all the locks in the building. There are 250 to 300 doors that now need new locks.

"What seemed like a really simple break-in this morning has turned into now the possibility of having to lock our building down, change every key in the building, work with residents to reissue keys to security lockers and to their residences," Agnew said. 

Security camera video from a Riverdale condo shows a thief entering the building, stealing the master key from a fire safety box, then entering a storage locker, where he takes a bicycle estimated to be worth more than $5,000. 0:50

"For people who don't live here and who are maybe renting to someone, then it's about how do we get keys to the owners and how do we deal with renters," he said.

"It's a big challenge ahead." 

Master keys not required for fire safety boxes

The stolen key was kept in a locked box at the building for Toronto Fire Services in case of emergencies. The key enables firefighters to get through the front doors and into any individual unit in the building. 

Under the Toronto Municipal Code, all buildings required to prepare a fire safety plan under the Ontario Fire Code must have a fire safety box. 

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop told CBC Toronto that he has heard of at least two other similar instances to what happened at the Riverdale condo over the past two years, but that master keys aren't required for the boxes.

"Sometimes well-intentioned owners put more content in there than what is required," he said. "We certainly recommend that if they feel there is any risk to their building that they don't put master keys or keys in the fire safety plan box — that they actually put up a separate key box."
Fire deputy chief Jim Jessop says he has seen about two other similar incidents in the past two years. (CBC)

Jessup says that the fire safety box should only contain a copy of the building's fire safety plan, Toronto Fire Services building documentation, service room keys — if the building owner chooses not to have a separate lock box — and a spare padlock to secure the box. 

Theft captured on security video

"If you get that key, then you can access everything," Agnew said.

Agnew said it took "mere moments" for the thief to steal the key on Monday morning. The theft was captured on security camera video.

After the man stole the key, he entered a nearby storage locker where bicycles are kept, and stole the bicycle. 
Jason Agnew, president of the board at the condo in Toronto's east end, said the condo may have to spend between $30,000 to $40,000, maybe more, to change all the locks in the building. (CBC)

Agnew said unlocking the bike was more difficult and troublesome than stealing the master key. It appears to have taken the man about eight minutes to unlock the bike.

Security footage shows a man casually enter an unlocked door at the front of the building. He walks to a metal box just inside the front doors, and within 15 to 20 seconds, he is able to pry it open with his bare hands and take the key. Then he heads to the locker, where he unlocks the bike, pulls it out from a rack and sets it aside.

Condo board director David Nissan says when the building was developed five or six years ago the original board of directors mistakenly believed the master key needed to be included in the fire safety box and that misinformation was passed on to the current board.

Nissan says he wonders if other condos have similar situations.

"This is could be a good opportunity for them to make sure that the key that they have in there is not only ... not a master key for [suites], but also it is locked within that lock box," he said.

Police are investigating

Toronto police say they are investigating the incident, which is being considered a break and enter and theft over $5,000.

Katrina Arrogante, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said police received a call about the incident at 2:55 p.m. on Monday but the theft reportedly occurred hours earlier.

Police will review the security camera video, she added. 
Charlotte Blackman, a resident who rents a unit in the building, said the theft is disturbing. (CBC)

Charlotte Blackman, a resident who rents a unit in the building, said the theft is disturbing. She said her unit has double locks on its front door but the incident is worrying. 

"It is very concerning. I think anybody in the city would be concerned about their safety and their home, never mind a condo where you have a large group of people in such a small area," she said. 

"It's a big, big problem in this building — security. It's very bothersome."

A notice about the security breach has been circulated to residents and posters have been put up at the building that read: "Do Not Let Any Strangers Into The Building." 
It appears to have taken the thief about eight minutes to unlock the bicycle. (CBC)

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Greg Ross and Makda Ghebreslassie

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