Our First Night At The House

This week didn’t go so well – our place was robbed twice in under a week and we’re now having to spend cold, dirty nights there to stop the robberies…

Tuesday morning the contractor discovered thieves had stripped all the copper plumbing out of the cellar. His guys hadn’t been down there since Friday, so it could have happened any time between end of day on Friday and Tuesday morning (or given how much was taken it’s more likely it happened several times over that time). He locked up the building better, but then Thursday morning his guys discovered thieves climbed up the scaffolding and got in one of the windows that are still open (because the scaffolding needs to be braced to things inside the building so it doesn’t fall down). This time the thieves got a little bit on each of the top three floors plus a toolbag.

None of this would have happened if ConEd would just get us electrical service. It’s now 8 full months since we first requested service. EIGHT MONTHS. If we had electricity we’d have a security system up and running and absurdly loud alarms would go off and the police would be called immediately upon break-in. But no electricity, no alarm system. No alarm system -> robberies.

And of course we’re staying there in freezing weather with no heat, in part because ConEd hasn’t put in the gas meters. In all fairness the plumber hasn’t plumbed the rads, but if ConEd were faster I think the plumber would be faster too. We like the plumber a lot. The one time I corrected him on something I was wrong and he was right.

So yesterday I went into crisis mode and dropped pretty much everything to get ready to sleep in the house. I got a tarp so we’d have a semi-clean surface to sleep on, and I got 4 battery operated lanterns which we put strategically around the house to make it look occupied. Someone suggested a radio – so that’s something we should add. And today the contractor went and installed battery operated motion sensor alarms. That will help us sleep a little better – we won’t have to wonder what every little sound is outside.

The really sweet thing is that the guy we’ve been paying to clean up around the building was quite disturbed about the robberies. He’s an older Belizean gentlemen and he and his friends “control” most of the block (in a good way). Because he’s the “super” of our building, they see our building as “theirs” and I suspect they see the robberies a challenge to their authority on the block. Yesterday afternoon they put up signs on our construction fence saying a third robbery would not happen and anyone who tried it would have to deal with their “street justice”. From early in the evening up until about 11pm there were people sitting in cars and hanging out watching the building. It’s sorta cool seeing the neighbors care enough to do something substantive to stop the robberies…

We did call the police Thursday morning and the detectives said a building at 122 & Lenox was robbed as well.

Unfortunately job site robbery is the norm in Harlem. I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen sooner, and the 2nd robbery was almost expected as well – once the thieves identify a building, they’ll keep coming back and back if they can. The detective did say that it’s an opportunity crime. I was worried if we stayed in the building we might encounter thieves with guns, but the detective was pretty adamant that that’s not typical. Still, it’s a bit more than an opportunity crime – they appear to have come with snips to cut the pipes.

ConEd first said they’d have electrical service in the building today. Then they said Tuesday. We’ll see. I’m hoping if we have electrical service on Tuesday that we can have a functioning alarm system by the end of next week. Staying in the house is no fun – it’s really cold at night, and it’s dirty. And every time something wakes you up you worry it’s a thief and have to get up to check it out. The shorter we have to do this, the better.

6 thoughts on “Our First Night At The House

  1. Gee – sorry to hear about this. Please be careful if you stay there overnight! Property is not worth getting hurt over (bad grammar but you get the idea).

  2. I’m contemplating bringing in a new electrical service into a 20 unit condominium complex in Queens to replace our current 30amp service originally installed in 1947 or so. It’s not a big job, comparatively, but having had some prior experience with Con Ed but that was many years ago. Therefore, I would like to use an electrical Contractor that has had recent experience so as to avoid the pitfalls you were unlucky enough to experience. If you were happy with your Contractor, would you kindly share their name and contact info?( By the say, I am a little unclear as to how many units are in your building?) Many thanks for your kind attention to this request.


  3. I am sorry to hear this … site robbery is one of my nightmares, too, albeit we are lucky so far (cross fingers) – we only had a wheelbarrow stolen, and it was partly our fault (forgot it outside). I am now grateful for the two stupid dogs barking at everyone and everything from the neighboring yard. I hope they will eventually learn we are not thieves, though … the neighbors themselves are quite nice; that is extremely important, and I am glad you have good neighbors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *