Tenting Theft

(WSVN) - Their condos were going to be tented for termites, but they felt their homes would be OK because they were told police would guard the building. Guess what happened, no police and many of the condos were broken into. Who has the pay for the stolen property? Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

The people at Park South Eleven in Lauderhill like it here — with just one common complaint.

Alan Mayard, condo burglarized: “Always had problems with termites so finally. At the beginning of the year they said they were going to take care of the termite problem.”

The residents were told to remove food from their condo, leave some windows open and your home will be safe…

Alan Mayard: “They claimed they were going to put guards on duty.”

Ramona Guzman, promised security: “They said there would be security person here.”

Not just security guards, the management company filled out a contract to hire Lauderhill Police to guard the condos. The tenting took place and…

Ramona Guzman: “When I came home, there were several tenants in the parking lot, and they said we got robbed.”

Robbed is an understatement. Residents say 18 of the 33 condos had been burglarized.

The screens ripped off the open windows, giving the crooks easy access.

Ramona Guzman lost her jewelry.

Ramona Guzman: “My bedroom, it was a lot of stuff out of my drawers, on my bed. It’s disheartening because those we’re my things.”

Police reports detail how residents had jewelry, purses and other valuables taken. One man lost nearly $5,000 in property. And with no guards outside, the thieves were able to take their time going from condo to condo.

Alan Mayard: “It’s like a system the way they did it. It was systematically done from condo to condo.”

Alan called the Southeast Condo Management company that was supposed to hire the police. He says they were not interested in talking to him.

Alan Mayard: “No feelings of remorse or anything. Very unapologetic, like we’re bothering them.”

Ramona is a renter who trusted her property left behind was being guarded.

Ramona Guzman: “So I am angry.”

Patrick Fraser: “Were you misled?”

Ramona Guzman: “Of course. Yeah, they said there was going to be security here. It would be secure, so yes, we were misled.”

They lost their property. Now they want someone to pay to replace it.

Ramona Guzman: “The management company? It’s their fault. They should be held accountable.

Alan Mayard: “I want us to all be reimbursed.”

Well Howard, are the residents or is someone else responsible for their stolen valuables?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Since the management company told the residents there would be security and the residents relied upon that, the management company is responsible for the stolen property.”

We got the contract that Southeast Condo Management filled out to hire Lauderhill Police.

The property manager sent an email to Lauderhill Police that read “sending check and originals out next week.”

But a Lauderhill Police spokesman said they never got a check and could not do the security job which is why “Refer to BSO” was written on the front page of the contract.

Thomas Tighe, the attorney for Southeast Condo Management, told me they didn’t send the check because there was no email response as to where to send it. But the property manager assumed the police detail would be there.

The attorney also doesn’t believe the management company should pay for the residents stolen property because he says they are not responsible for a criminal act.

Howard Finkelstein: “While that is true in most circumstances, it is not true when tenting a property because it is an advertisement to burglars that no one is home and access is easy. And that’s why breaking the promise of providing security makes the management company responsible.”

The good news? The termites are gone. The bad news? So is the trust many residents had in the people who run their complex.

Alan Mayard: “Aggravated, to say the least, at the condo association, at the property management.”

The owners and renters can file with their insurance companies but they have to pay their deductible. It better for them to sue management company in small claims court where Howard thinks they will win. Or maybe the management company will agree with Howard — that they are wrong — and pay to replace the stolen property.

A real pest chewing away at your peace of mind. Wanna protect yourself. Contact us. And let us manage to help you out. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

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