STAMFORD – Emails among residents of Infinity at Harbor Point chronicle car thefts from a parking garage where doors were regularly stuck open.
Tenants of the luxury apartment high-rise shared the emails between 2020 and this year with CT Examiner.
In a Sept. 12, 2020 note, a tenant informs neighbors that her car had been stolen; that the garage had only a few security cameras that “have not been working for an entire month;” and that one garage door was “left open for days, sometimes weeks, at a time.”
On Sept. 21, 2020, the Infinity property manager emailed a response refuting any stolen-car claims. It says management and Stamford Police Department investigators determined “that the person that took the vehicle had the keys and was known to the resident. There was no forced entry. Therefore, it was not a real car theft nor was it a stranger that just wandered in and took the first vehicle they saw.”
The property manager denounced “the misleading postings” about the incident “that were hung around the building,” saying, “please be advised that there is a lease violation and cleaning fee imposed for posting any flyers in the community without the prior approval of management.”
According to that email, Stamford police told the property manager “that this was the first time a car has ever been taken from Infinity. However, they have had multiple car thefts from surrounding buildings.”
But Stamford Police Department records show a car was stolen from the Infinity garage on or about Sept. 13, 2020. The owner of the stolen car emailed on that day that police had found it, abandoned and out of gas, on Route 25 near Bridgeport.
Beyond that, police statistics show that cars had, in fact, been stolen from the Infinity garage. One was reported two years earlier, on Sept. 29, 2018; and another on Oct. 17, 2014.
Now two more cars have gone missing from the garage of the 22-story building at 201 Commons Park South.
‘Very lax security’
At 1:20 a.m. on Friday, May 19, “two people got into the garage and took two cars that were unlocked with the keys inside,” Sgt. Sean Scanlan said Thursday. “I don’t have information about whether the garage door was up or down, but most likely it was up because the people got in without a problem.”
Police recovered both cars within three days, Scanlan said.
The 2020 Jeep Compass was found on Betts Avenue in Stamford’s Waterside neighborhood on May 19, Scanlan said. A patrol officer spotted the 2022 Subaru Legacy in the parking lot of Westwood Townhomes, a Stamford housing authority complex on Birch Drive on the West Side, on May 22, Scanlan said.
“It appears there was no security, or very lax security, in the garage,” Scanlan said.
This time, Infinity management acknowledged the thefts in an email to tenants sent on the afternoon of the May 19 thefts. The email does not explain how the thieves entered the garage.
“An unauthorized vehicle gained access to the garage and was parked on the 4th floor. Disturbingly, several cars were rummaged through, and two vehicles were taken from the premises,” the manager’s email reads.
“I understand that there have been ongoing issues with the garage doors, which have caused concerns among many of you. I want to express my sincere apologies for any inconvenience or anxiety caused by these recurring problems. As your property manager, I want to assure you that I am personally committed to resolving this issue once and for all.”
But tenants said Thursday they’ll believe it when they see it. They said they did not want to be identified because the manager of Infinity – AJH, a New Jersey real estate investment and management firm – retaliates against complainers by refusing to renew their leases, raising their rents, denying service requests, and other actions.
Infinity “has no 24-hour concierge, and one or both garages have been open more than closed for at least two years,” a tenant told CT Examiner Thursday. “It’s definitely a safety issue because if somebody comes in through the garage, they have access to the building. They can go anywhere they want in the building. It makes you feel unsafe – someone can be hiding in the garage at any time.”
Tenants emailed that to Infinity management months ago.
‘Residents do not feel safe’
In July, a tenant wrote, “We’ve had two car burglaries that the residents are aware of in the last year due to the garage doors being left wide open with no security measures. The residents do not feel safe, which is pretty sad given it’s supposedly marketed as a ‘luxury’ building.”
Monthly rents at Infinity range from $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment to $6,100 for larger apartments on the topmost floors, according postings on Apartments.com.
In August another tenant wrote that garage doors are “inoperable for weeks” at a time and repairs “have been ongoing” for two years.
“You have not staged security personnel at the doors for incoming cars, nor have you installed locks on the doors from the garage into the building. Thus anyone can come in through the garage and enter the building or assault someone in the garage,” the tenant wrote.
A manager responded the same day that they were “working on the security of the garage,” but, “unfortunately … waiting on parts and clearance is our biggest issue and while we wish this could be an in-house fix, it does not work like that.”
The safety of residents “is our top priority,” the manager wrote, but “no security system or device is foolproof or 100 percent successful in deterring crime. Crime can still occur. Protecting residents, their families, occupants, guests and invitees from crime is the sole responsibility of residents, occupants and law enforcement agencies.”
A ‘dump’ for ‘hot’ cars
Scanlan said police officers will meet with residents to discuss safety measures if residents invite them. In the meantime, residents can do two things to protect their vehicles – lock them and take the keys, Scanlan said.
“These are crimes of opportunity,” he said. “It’s usually young people pulling on door handles. If they can get in and start the car, they drive it away. In 99 percent of cases, cars that are stolen or broken into are unlocked.”
Sgt. Chris Weed provided car theft numbers that go back to November 2012. The list is not 100 percent accurate because the department’s computer system sometimes “codes” using an apartment number instead of an address, but “it should be very close,” Weed said.
During that time, 13 cars were stolen from Harbor Point buildings, Weed found. That includes five cars stolen from Infinity; five from 121 Towne Street; two from the Opus building at 900 Pacific St.; and one from the Postmark building at 301 Commons Park.
Assistant Chief Richard Conklin said Thursday that most car thieves in the area are “young males involved in various criminal activities.” Cars are not only stolen from apartment building garages, but cars stolen from elsewhere are dumped in garages, Conklin said.
“If they think a stolen car is hot – that there were witnesses to the theft or that it could have been caught on a security camera – they look for a fresh car. It’s a common thing,” Conklin said. “Stolen cars are coming in from New York and cities to our east, like Bridgeport.”
Messages left for AJH leasing specialist Dan Pascual and AJH regional manager Joseph Klein were not returned.