RCMP in Airdrie are asking for tips from the public after a locksmith van was stolen and the contents removed earlier this week.
It could take as long as six weeks to re-key thousands of affordable housing units across the city after key-making equipment connected to the Calgary Housing Company was stolen from a vehicle.
City staff and Coun. Brian Pincott worked through the night Wednesday and early Thursday to put in place a response plan, after learning a contractor’s vehicle was stolen overnight Monday, possibly putting the safety of thousands of residents living in the city-owned units at risk.
The yellow and black ABOE Locksmith van was stolen outside an Airdrie apartment complex, and though the vehicle was quickly recovered Tuesday morning, officials learned equipment and information used to cut keys was missing, according to RCMP.
“The equipment taken could allow someone to create keys for some CHC units,” Sarah Woodgate, president of Calgary Housing Company, said at a news conference Thursday.
The Calgary Housing Company houses 25,000 people in 7,300 units on 211 properties across the city.
“If the person who stole this equipment knew how to use it and put the equipment together with the information, and knew how to put all that together, there’s a potential they can . . . create keys to access units,” said Coun. Pincott, the chair of the Calgary Housing Company.
No Calgary Housing Company tenant names or other personal information was included in the stolen information.
Officials say it’s not yet known how many units are affected, so out of an abundance of caution, information is being hand delivered to all units and locks on fewer than 7,300 units will be changed.
“Part of our challenge is understanding the scope of it, so we’ve shot big to make sure we’re not missing anybody,” Pincott said.
Pincott and Woodgate stressed tenant safety is top of mind and police are conducting a full investigation.
“First and foremost for us is our tenant’s safety and everything that we’ve done has that in focus. Everything else is secondary to that,” Pincott said, noting contractor policies will be looked at down the road.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi agreed.
“The No. 1 thing we have to do is make sure that we’re looking after people’s safety. Particularly, some of the tenants are vulnerable and so we need to make sure we’re OK there. It’s all hands on deck. Fix this, do the re-keying, make sure we have everyone’s safety in place,” he said.
“Once that’s all done, we have to have a big conversation about policy, procedure, process and how we can avoid this sort of thing in the future.”
At this point, it’s not known how much it will cost to re-key the unknown number of units.
“There is undoubtedly a cost for this. We’ll have to see the result of the police investigation as to where that lies,” Pincott said.
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