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Calgary condo break-ins underscore need to keep lockboxes secured: police

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WATCH: The victims of several break-ins in Calgary are warning against the use of lock boxes after one building was targeted twice in the past few weeks. Nancy Hixt reports on the risk of using the boxes.

Brian Colledge is an avid biker who’d invested thousands of dollars into his bicycle.

“It was this awesome Rocky Mountain Instinct 950, worth about $4,000 with a few extra parts added on.”

READ MORE: New collaborative approach at solving break and enters leads to decline in crime: Calgary police

Early in September, Colledge’s bike was stolen from the storage room at his condominium tower in Calgary’s urban Beltline neighbourhood. And while a stolen bike isn’t necessarily newsworthy, it’s how the bike was taken that seems brazen.

“Somebody pried the lockbox [like the type] used for trades, security, plumbing, fire and emergency off the outside of the building, smashed it open, and gained the key fob to common areas as well as two master keys to the other common areas.”

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Lockboxes are commonly used to give tradespersons and realtors access to large residential complexes. Under the city of Calgary’s fire code, buildings like the large condo towers in the Beltline are also required to have a lockbox so emergency services personnel can easily gain access to the building.

Lock boxes are seen on the outside wall of a condo in Calgary.
Lock boxes are seen on the outside wall of a condo in Calgary. Global News

Colledge’s condo complex was quick to act in deactivating the fob used to gain access to the building.

READ MORE: Edmonton police warn of condo and apartment parkade B&Es

Four days later, security footage showed the same thief returning to the building, smashing open another lockbox, and using the keys inside to get in and steal yet another bike. It was at that point the condo board took drastic action.

“With the exception of fire and police, every contractor lockbox and every realtor lockbox has been moved off-site,” Colledge said. “It is inconvenient, but we’re lucky that our condo management building is literally right across the street.”

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Surveillance video shows the alleged thief leaving a bike storage room in a Calgary condo building.
Surveillance video shows the alleged thief leaving a bike storage room in a Calgary condo building. Contributed

Putting lockboxes under guard is exactly what Calgary police have been recommending to condo boards for a number of years.

“We would suggest any time that you can, those aren’t left out,” said Staff Sergeant Sean Gregson. “Whether they’re realtor boxes or lockboxes that are even embedded in the building, we’ve seen circumstances where people can get in to those.”

“When you leave those keys out in a location that is easily visible, people will take advantage of it.”

READ MORE: Caught on camera: intruders break into Calgary home while mom at home with 2 children

Colledge said while he can understand the need for lockboxes to give access to those who need to do work within the building, he’s pleased action has been taken to move them off-site.

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“It’s going to inconvenience a realtor and a tradesperson, but the risk of getting broken into is greater than the inconvenience to somebody like that.”