Undercover DOI Investigators Take Appliances From NYCHA Storerooms With No Trouble

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An investigation exposed a theft risk at New York City public housing complexes – and a follow-up investigation a year later showed it is still happening.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the clues were gathered undercover – with city investigators stealing refrigerators with no problem. The investigators also loaded a brand new stove into a van, and no one stopped them.

The New York City Department of Investigation went undercover – sending investigators in to try to steal new and used appliances from storerooms at 19 different city housing facilities.

They wore either plain clothes or dressed as New York City Housing Authority employees. They were successful in easily swiping from six of them – Pelham Parkway Houses in the Bronx, Wald Houses and Smith Houses in Lower Manhattan, Sheepshead Bay Houses in Brooklyn, Hammel Houses in Queens, and Mariners Harbor Houses on Staten Island.

“Nothing is surprising,” said one woman who lives in the Smith Houses.

“Oh my God, I don’t know. I’m surprised… but you know, housing is housing. You know nobody cares about nothing,” said resident Zaida Ramos, who lives in the same development.

“We have no security. We really don’t,” the first woman continued.

But Aixa Torres, the Smith Houses Tenant Association president, is surprised such a thing happened there.

“My manager; my superintendent are like, really, they do the grounds all the time. They don’t sit behind their desk,” she said, “and they’re on top of things.”

What’s more, DOI investigators went back and found managerial staff had no idea anything was even missing at the sites.

NYCHA responded first commending the 13 of the 19 sites where they said protocols are working and inventory is secure.”

However, the authority said, “We have more work to do to ensure inventory is properly locked and secured at all of our sites.”

For Ramos, it is even more frustrating because she requested a new stove herself.

“Sometimes you know, you want to complain because your stove’s no good,” she said. “And they don’t want to replace. They want to, you know, come and fix it and that’s it.”

Little did she know how easy it was just to take one.

The DOI first told NYCHA about the issues when it arrested a NYCHA caretaker for stealing appliances in 2016. The department made recommendations that include alarm systems and cameras, and better ways to track items in storage.

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