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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Putting an End to Package Theft

Purloined packages. We manage an affordable co-op in Harlem with no doorman. The front doors are transparent, so you can see into the lobby from the street. It’s not an ideal layout because there are people on the street seeking out packages. Residents try to help out by taking their neighbors’ packages and delivering them to their doors, but you can’t be around all day. If you’re living in this building and not picking your package within 24 hours of delivery, it’s as good as gone. People follow deliverymen into the lobby. It’s a big problem. 


An inadequate fix. We do have security cameras surveilling the lobby 24/7, and we were able to pick up images of one thief. But he or she was wearing a face mask — we have a rule in the co-op that you must wear a mask due to COVID — so the thief blended right in with everyone else. Delivery people are wearing masks, too, so it’s hard to identify who belongs in the building and who doesn’t.


Time to go to Plan B. Our recommendation to the board was to install a package locker. We did it in three other buildings in the area that had been having similar issues, and it was really effective for two of the buildings. In the other one, we installed the locker in the vestibule, and the vestibule front door is open to the public. Someone saw the box and expected something valuable to be inside it, so they came in with a crowbar and damaged it beyond repair.

An affordable solution. The package lockers are cost-efficient — about $600. There’s a shared key that we place into a lockbox, and we share the combination code with all shareholders. There’s a mechanism that allows delivery people to put packages in, but you can’t take packages out. People seem to like it. It gives them peace of mind knowing that their package is secure until they pick it up. If people can bring their neighbors’ packages to their doorsteps, that’s really ideal. But if packages accumulate, then putting it in a secure box is a good response to the problem.

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