Did you start this holiday week hoping to have every one of your worst paranoid fears confirmed? Well, you're in luck! The New York Post ran a story yesterday about Ashley Chase, a Midtown resident who used a hidden camera to catch her super sneaking into her studio apartment while she wasn't home, then stealing and sniffing her underthings. (She'd grown suspicious after several bras and pairs of underwear had mysteriously vanished from the place). Yikes.
The incident in question took place just a few minutes after she'd left the building to head to Montauk for the weekend, and got an alert from Presence—a motion-activated surveillance camera app—that the camera she'd left set up in her apartment on an old iPhone had been activated. “He saw me leave, he saw me with my bag, and he knew I was heading out,” she tells the Post. Take a look at the video below:
Her super is now being charged with "burglary as a sexually motivated felony " and petit larceny. It's fair to say this case, while highly disturbing, is the exception, not the rule when it comes to supers. But the incident echoes a concern that's come up before, as renters balk at building rules requiring them to hand over a copy of their keys to the building's super. So what's a suspicious renter to do?
A few options: As we've written previously, you could insist on giving your keys to the building's management company rather than the individual super, or hand them over in a tamper-proof Envelock to discourage any use outside of emergencies. You could also simply refuse to hand them over altogether, knowing that if a super does have to break down your door in the case of a real emergency, you'll be eating the cost of at least several hundred dollars.
If it's too late for all that and you're already concerned about someone sneaking in, it might be worth investing in a home security system like Canary, which lets you monitor your apartment from afar. (NB: If your landlord is the one acting shady, recording them can be a smart tactic, too.)
On the flip side, if you've got a sneaking suspicion that someone's planted a hidden camera in your apartment without your knowledge—it's been known to happen, unfortunately—you can pick up a hidden camera detector for around $100 (more details here). Suddenly roommates who sneak bites of your food out of the fridge don't seem so bad after all, do they?