Man Robbed in Elevator After Letting People He Didn’t Know into Building

by Prince Of Petworth December 13, 2013 at 11:30 am 17 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

“Dear PoPville,

According to my building’s management, last night a guest of a tenant in my building was buzzed in and three men in their late 20s or early 30s who were hanging out in front followed him into the building. When they all were on the elevator, the men then robbed him of his wallet. He was not physically hurt thankfully. The robbery was reported to the police, who have reviewed the building’s security camera footage and are now investigating.

While I’ve heard of people sneaking into buildings to steal packages and the like, I have not heard of this robbery tactic before, and I thought it might be good to give people a head’s up. Just another reason to not let strangers into an apartment building. The locale of this crime was on 15th Street by Meridian Hill Park.”

  • Anon

    This happens all the time.

  • Ctina

    I often think of things like this when I’m coming home in the evening, and there are people hanging around outside my building who walk in behind me once I’ve opened the door. Or when I leave in the morning, and someone’s standing outside who can now go in because I’ve opened the door. Just… what do you do? It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t know them. However, it’s almost impossible to not let them in.

    • Anonymous

      Honestly, I have more than once walked around to the entrance at the back of my building to avoid having to let them in/deal with telling them I can’t.

      • power of flight

        +1 with the 2nd entrance. Then once you get to your apartment, go back down with a broom and shoo them away from the front so they can’t get in behind anyone else.

      • 17th Street

        I am regularly annoyed that my building doens’t have a 2nd entrance, so I end up standing on the sidewalk pretending to using my phone while I wait for the people hanging out near the door to go away. It’s not even possible to slip in the front door and pull it shut behind me – for some reason they are designed to close smoothly and slowly, and resist any pulling. So I wait, and practice my confrontation avoidance skills. Luckily it doesn’t happen too often, and I’ve never had ot wait more than a few minutes.

        • Ctina

          Sadly, my building doesn’t have a 2nd entrance. And the door is also the type that sloooowly drifts shut, resistant to pulling. So I can’t close it behind me. I try to open it only enough for myself to slip though, but they still get it.

    • Maire

      On the one hand it’s really uncomfortable (and potentially risky) to challenge someone and ask them if they live there or tell them they need to wait for their friend (or whoever they say they’re there to see) to come down and let them in, on the other hand it would really suck if someone got robbed, raped, or burglarized and it was traced back to you (the general you).

      So, I don’t know. The few times I have had this issue I have just snuck in the door and pulled it shut behind me, not letting it shut on it’s own so someone can grab it. I’m lucky I’ve never had to confront someone.

      We have had someone clean out the bikes in our building after someone held the door. It really pissed me off on multiple levels, but I guess I can’t blame someone for not wanting to speak up when they don’t recognize someone.

      • Ctina

        My apartment complex has one of those large, heavy doors that slooooooowly drifts shut. So I can’t pull it tightly closed behind me. I’ve tried. I’ve also tried to open it only enough to squeeze through, but people still catch it.

        I was literally just thinking about this whole thing this morning, because it drives me crazy. I feel like confronting these strangers would not be a good idea. It would have to be a full-on confrontation, because they’re always RIGHT THERE, and it’s not like they ask–they just grab the door and walk in.

    • divequeen706

      It’s always better to turn around, look them in the face and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in” than risk your property being stolen or being assaulted. I’ve had to do it numerous times – it’s all in the confidence. I stand in the door if I have to to bar the way – and I’m always ready to point out a security camera (if your building doesn’t have one, maybe see if you can get a fake one to put up).
      What’s most awkward is when the person does live in the building – and has the fob to prove it. I’m always turning around to stop someone following me, and they just hold up their fob. My neighbors seem appreciative of it, especially since it lets them know you’re looking out for their property, too.

      • Maire

        The thing is, I wouldn’t mind if another resident challenged me before letting me in. I would appreciate it, actually. I don’t don’t think most people feel the same way ;)

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, if that’s awkward then either you or the other person has a problem. To me that sounds like the best case scenario.

      • Emilie504

        But all the fobs seem to look the same. I dont know what to do about that.
        It always annoys me when someone I don’t recognize holds the door for me. Do they hold the door for everyone? That’s not safe. Luckily, my apt manager looks at the security feed while she’s a work and she tells people who hold the door open to stop.

      • Niceguy_321

        You can be assaulted and robbed just as easily outside the door of your building as inside it. I think its better not to challenge an intimidating person trying to get in at all. I think eye contact is important, but after that just go your own way. Its your building management’s responsibility to secure the building not yours.

  • Kathryn-DC

    This sort of thing has happened in my building. Even when the neighborhood was still in bad shape, people still didn’t seem to understand what can happen.

    I have had some really uncomfortable confrontations at the front door. If the person gets really irate or aggressive I don’t hestitate to report it to building management. Good building managers know that they have a liability issue there.

  • power of flight

    Was the headline written by someone’s aunt?

  • soulshadow55

    On the weekends I work front desk at a high priced apartment building which will remain unnamed. Our loading dock is in the back alley. When residents are moving in or out I always ask them to please close the back door before they take their furniture up in the freight elevator – they never do. They kinda look at me like I have two heads for even suggesting it. I guess some people grow up in quiet, crime free, comfortable neighborhoods and they never think that anything bad could ever happen to them. When I come on duty nine times out of ten the back door is sitting wide open for anyone to walk right in. I really don’t understand people – it’s incredibly dangerous to leave the door open. We have no cameras to see who is coming in so we are up every 5 minutes checking the door. Even if we leave a sign on the door – they still don’t close it. Thank God we’ve only had one real scary robbery in the building, it could be a lot worse. But yes, it happens all the time with the back door and the front door as well.

  • disgruntled borger management tenant

    What if the problem is that your 24 hour concierge buzzes in anyone who stands in front of the door and doesn’t have their fob ready, usually just based on noticing a shadow on one of those distorting mirrors.


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