Ask an Expert

Packages are being stolen from our building, and the security camera isn't working. What can we do?

Besides fixing the camera, there are other steps management can take to prevent package theft. 

iStock

Share this Article

Question:

Packages are being stolen from our apartment building's lobby. Sometimes just the contents are removed, and sometimes the packages are being stolen entirely. There is a security camera in the lobby, but when the management company was notified about the situation and asked to look at the footage for a specific time frame, they told us that the camera has not been working for a while. Is there any action tenants can take to address this?

Answer:

There's no city law requiring rental buildings to have functioning security cameras, but it would be reasonable for you and your neighbors to ask management to address this situation, our experts say.

"A landlord that is on notice of criminal activity at a property may be obligated to take reasonable safety precautions," says Jeffrey Reich, a partner at Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. "Fixing the security camera would certainly be a reasonable action for the landlord to take in this instance." 

Tenants who have had packages stolen should write to the management company, detailing what has gone missing and the date of the theft. Mention, too, the problems with the camera, Reich suggests, and that the landlord could be held liable for the loss if they do not take any action. 

Apartment insurance, too, can cover the loss, though your deductible may mean it's not worthwhile to put in a claim for a missing package. 

There's strength in numbers, and if you and your neighbors are diligent about contacting management, they may be spurred into fixing or replacing the camera. There are other ways of preventing theft, too.

"Non-doorperson buildings can consider package lockers, but space for them is usually the issue," says Michael Wolfe, president of Midboro Management. "Cameras and signage are a great deterrent." 

Ask management to put up signs reminding tenants not to allow anyone into the building that they do not recognize. They might also put up signage stating that the building's entrances and lobby are monitored by a security camera. 

The NYPD suggests a few other tactics: When you order a package, select the option that require you to sign in person for it to be delivered. You could also have it shipped to your workplace or to someone you know will be home to accept it. Another option is to get a post office box, or use a service like Amazon Locker. 

Should none of this work, report the theft to the police. NYPD involvement may be the deciding factor in getting your building management to repair those cameras. 


Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert. Send your questions to [email protected].

For more Ask an Expert questions and answers, click here.