After Spate of Thefts, Tips to Boost Lobby Security

Video surveillance footage of a man who removed packages from the lobby of 130 W. 16th St. Photo courtesy Paul Groncki.

BY LEVAR ALONZO | Video surveillance footage from a residential building at 130 W. 16th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) caught a brazen thief helping himself to packages left inside the lobby.

It couldn’t have been any easier. On the afternoon of Tues., Oct. 3, the man waited for a construction worker to open the building’s first door, then waited to be buzzed into the lobby through the second door.

Paul Groncki, a 30-year resident of the building who serves as chair of the 100 West 16th Street Block Association (and currently serves as acting chair of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations), said it’s been several weeks since he first started hearing residents mention missing packages.

The man in the video can be seem sizing up items in the lobby. When he was finished going through the packages, he left with whatever he could fit under his jacket. At one point in the recording, a resident of the building came in to collect her mail — but she was oblivious to the man roaming around in the hallway.

“We have work going on in our building so construction workers and delivery men are going in and out,” Groncki noted. “People in the building, they just don’t pay attention.” Groncki said that he has sent notes to tenants asking them to check their tracking orders and when their package arrives, just go and collect it.

“Sometimes people order an item and then three days after it has arrived, it is still sitting in the lobby,” he said. “We have to be more aware and pay attention.” Groncki added that he has heard of packages being taken from the building at 135 W. 16th St. as well as from other buildings in the neighborhood that don’t have a lobby (in which case, delivery services such as UPS and FedEx just leave packages outside the main entrance).

Groncki is concerned that if the man in the video was brazen enough to get through two locked doors to steal packages, it might be a tough holiday season for the building.

“My advice to folks is just simply go and get your package when it arrives,” he said.

A tip sheet from the NYPD’s 13th Precinct offered some advice to the building’s residents. Crime Prevention Officer Joseph Carlucci, who had been notified of the theft, implored them to not let anyone into the building they don’t know, and if they see something being used to block the door or keep it open, to remove that item. Carlucci also recommended that if residents see “someone is in the building and acting suspiciously, immediately walk away and call 911 with the best description of this person/people that you have.”

Groncki asked for people in the neighborhood to be vigilant — and if they have seen the man in the video, call the police or let him know via email (at

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