Halp! Someone stole mah truck!
August 24, 2010 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Our truck was stolen from our gated apartment complex. Is the complex at all liable?

We live in a gated apartment complex where you need a key fob to get in, but not for getting out. The gate has a sign on it that says that the property is under surveillance 24 hours a day. Our truck was parked next to the gate, as the rest of the parking in front of our door areas are covered or garages which are extra per month. We come outside and were dumbfounded that the truck had just disappeared. No glass on the ground, it was locked, we were in possession of the keys. We went to the complex office and asked if we could possibly get the surveillance video for the gate. The manager said she would talk to corporate and get back to us. A few hours later our agent who we signed the lease with shows up and said that the cameras are "broken" and have been for months and the sign is just up as a deterrence.

We had full coverage on it, so it is covered by the insurance. It has been two weeks since the theft and we have filed police report, claim, etc. Is it possible that the complex itself could be liable for these thefts considering the signs? I feel sort of misled about our safety after this happened.

The police have other things to worry about, I know, they just seemed to have blown it off as just another theft. They said "Oh, they probably just wanted the wheels, we'll probably find it abandoned in a few weeks or months". Nice. I'm hoping our insurance premiums won't skyrocket or this theft be held against us in some way. Or worse, finding its been completely stripped and having to take it back in that condition.

Would appreciate experiences or advice, or things we should not be forgetting to do. Thanks!
posted by phox to Law & Government (13 answers total)
 
Do you know your neighbors? I'd be allll over telling every neighbor I could about what happened. If it happened to you, it could be someone from your complex doing the stealing, and it could happen to someone who doesn't have theft on their car (if its older and paid off, perhaps?). I would be very happy if someone warned me about such a thing so I could be more vigilant about my property. And if enough people complain, maybe they'll actually fix the cameras. Because that's pretty scummy.
posted by kpht at 6:14 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Read your lease. The "gated communities" I've lived in pretty much specifically absolve themselves of liability for safety or property loss. On one place I had to sign an addendum that said that the gates were pretty much just for show.
posted by birdherder at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see how the complex would be at fault - do you have a contract with them where they explicitly state guarantee the safety of your truck? Are there any 'park at your own risk' disclaimer signs anywhere? On the property itself or in the lease/parking agreement?

It'd be extremely unusual for a complex to take responsibility for the vehicles on its property.

they just seemed to have blown it off as just another theft. They said "Oh, they probably just wanted the wheels, we'll probably find it abandoned in a few weeks or months". Nice

I know you're upset, but...um... it is just another theft. Vehicle crime is pretty damn common.
posted by Brockles at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is your problem.

You'll get reimbursed by your insurance company. The insurance company may or may not look into whether they can in turn collect from the community, but whether they do or not, you'll already have been reimbursed.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:18 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


We had full coverage on it, so it is covered by the insurance. It has been two weeks since the theft and we have filed police report, claim, etc. Is it possible that the complex itself could be liable for these thefts considering the signs?

If so, your insurance company will pursue the apartment complex, and if you got money from the complex, you would almost certainly have to use it to offset the insurer's losses. So it's not really your concern.
posted by grouse at 6:20 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


gated communities are security theater at their dumbest. in our complex the geniuses have just put up two gates and no fence. our lease has language absolving them of any and all theft, damage, etc whether in the parking lot or in the apartment, unless we can prove they're at fault.
posted by nadawi at 6:24 PM on August 24, 2010


2nding Birdherder. I can almost promise you there's a clause in your lease that removes any liability on the part of the apartment complex. Seriously. Read your lease. You'll be amazed by some of the crazy verbiage in there. They may talk about how important your safety is when you're being shown a new apartment, but the lease says the safety of your person and possessions isn't their problem.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2010


No, they're not liable (unless they're something in your lease that says they are.) If a gate implied responsibility, there wouldn't be any gated apartment complexes.
posted by sanko at 6:29 PM on August 24, 2010


Post a sign under the surveillance sign that says "security camera broken, this sign will be removed once it is fixed". Someone will take it down, so make sure you make lots of copies.

And no, you're not doing any damage...the people who want to know the status of the security camera for illegal reasons already know. This is just an annoyance that will get the job done.

Also, wander into s police station and ask them sbout what you can do...ymmv.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:35 PM on August 24, 2010


Yea I did make sure I told all my neighbors what happened. I realize I am not a special snowflake, and this does happen all the time. I just think other residents in the complex should know what they are dealing with and maybe the complex itself take better security measures. Hell, if you needed a key fob to exit the gates, it would have prevented it, assuming it's not a resident who is the thief. I'm just a sheltered girl who is originally from rural PA where I never heard of this happening :) Welcome to the big city I guess :P
posted by phox at 6:45 PM on August 24, 2010


Needing a keyfob to exit the gate is quite possibly illegal or at least ill-advised: legitimate visitors may have someone to let them in but no one to let them out (e.g. a repairman who arrives in the morning and finishes the job after the client has left for work). There's a reason why the vast majority of gates open automatically for people to exit.

grouse is right: the insurance company will go after the complex if there's any responsibility on their end here. Not your problem to worry about. Sorry about your car, hope it turns up!
posted by zachlipton at 6:53 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


While they may not be liable for the theft of your truck (btw, someone probably just jumped the fence, slimjimmed it, broke the ignition lock and was out) you should definitely organize your neighbors to complain about the broken cameras. I imagine when you leased the apartment , the security was one of the amenities adverstised. If they're not actually providing security, they're misrepresenting themselves.
posted by electroboy at 10:06 AM on August 25, 2010


I know I'm late to this party, but I thought I would contribute anyway:

Needing a keyfob (or similar) to exit does happen. My mom currently lives in an apartment complex where that's the case. Let me tell you that all that particular feature does is annoy people (and could possibly reduce overall safety in the event of an emergency). It does not add more than a modicum of security. Most of the time, if my mom forgets to open the gates for me on my way out, I only need to wait a few minutes before some other resident needs to enter or leave, and I can tailgate my way through. Gates add only the barest illusion of security.
posted by stufflebean at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2010


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