During the undercover operation against the murderer, Wyatt Prince, my roommate and I lived in The Chelsea at 865 View Street. It’s an apartment building managed by Brown Bros and just outside of spitting distance from the infamous View Towers. View Towers is where Prince had committed his home invasion and murder. During the approximately two years we lived there, Brown Bros went through three different building managers. Two of those were proven criminals. That prompts me to ask you, “Do criminals have master keys to your door?”
This Warning Of The Risks “Master Keys” Bring To Your Security Comes To You In The Form Of A Real Story. It’s a story about Murder, Fraud and Inept Management.
See If You Can Follow The Master Keys And Figure How Many Sets There Are.
This blog posting is a continuation of my most previous blog posting about the sanctity of your rental suite. As such, it should be read and treated as a warning. It is an example to you about what, more often than you would like to believe, happens with the master keys to the inside suites. This might be of less concern were we talking only about the master key that allows outside entry to your building. But no, we are talking about master keys to your actual suite.
Please enjoy the read as I provide you the background as to why I believe you should be concerned if your suite is secured by a master key system. As you read, please realize that what happened with the master key in this tale, happened under the watch of one of the two largest property management companies in Victoria. This fact makes this warning even more dire.
And So Begins The Tale
When my roommate and I moved into The Chelsea, the building manager, employed by Brown Bros, was a man by the name of Wes. Shortly after we moved in, Wes, not liking my roommate coming and going at all hours, began to take an inordinate interest in her business. As any of you who have read my book Breaking the Code are aware, my roommate came from a rather rough background. Therefore, being extremely irritated by this intrusion into her life, she laid into Wes one day. In doing so, her words and attitude appropriately reflected her background. She made it absolutely clear to Wes that he needed to “back da f**k up“.
A Nosy, Controlling, Retributive Building Manager
Obviously, Wes was trying to drive my roommate and me away by having those residents glare at her and make rude comments to her. One resident went so far one day as to mock my roommate’s choice of attire. She did this knowing my roommate had just worn her outfit at her father’s funeral.
This type of cruel harassment of my roommate continued. Sometimes Wes would give intentionally loud warnings of our unacceptability to other residents immediately outside of our suite.
Enough Was Enough
I’m a patient and understanding man if you wrong me. However, I will not tolerate you intentionally wronging somebody about whom I care. I watched as my roommate was growing more and more hurt and angry with each passing day. Finally, I had seen enough.
Therefore, I went to Wes and told him that he needed to end his harassment campaign forthwith. I made it clear that if he did not do so I would be forced to react. I informed him in no uncertain terms that while my roommate had “bark”, I had “bite”.
Wes continued to be a stubborn fool
Wes ignored my request. Accordingly, I promptly wrote a letter to Brown Bros. I threatened to bring an action against them with the Residential Tenancy Branch [RTB]. In the letter I explained the behaviors that my roommate was being forced to endure.
Additionally, I informed Brown Bros that it was apparent there was an illegal call girl service being run from the top floor. I told Brown Bros, if true, that somebody attached business wise with The Chelsea must somehow be profiting from it. I informed them that if that was the case it could bring Brown Bros liabilities.
Without revealing the names of ladies who claimed knowledge of such a service, I can tell you there existed ample evidence. I had witnessed the traffic late at night on weekends. Additionally, ladies had told me of paying Wes thirty dollars for a mattress thrown on the floor. In any event, soon after having complained to Brown Bros, I witnessed Wes’ beloved Harley-Davidson being towed away. In my mind, his income had taken a dip and he could no longer afford the payments. Shortly thereafter, Wes was replaced by a new resident manager.
The aftermath was that the procession of young ladies buzzing into the building late at night on Fridays and Saturdays quickly ended. You can make of those facts whatever you will.
Hello New Resident Manager
Wes was replaced by a resident manager. He was hired from among the then current residents of The Chelsea. Mark, the new manager, with the approval of Brian Siddall of Brown Bros, hired a good friend of Mark’s as the assistant manager, a Jayson Anderson. Anderson was also a Chelsea resident. Prior to the hiring of Mark and Anderson, I knew little of Mark other than his ever present smile and friendly attitude.
Enter The Drug Dealer
Furthermore, he was on probation at the time he was hired. Finally, Anderson had bragged to me about murdering somebody in Ontario a number of years back. Supposedly, Anderson had intentionally overdosed the guy. Accordingly, I was alarmed to see him being given control of the master keys to the approximately one hundred and twenty suites.
Many of the major apartment complexes in Victoria have at least one dealer living within them. This is true no matter how high end the residents might believe the building to be.
Do You Know The Difference Between A Drug Dealer In A Higher End Building And A Drug Dealer In A Lower End Building?
The Dealer In The Higher End Building Sells More Drugs, And Therefore, While Perhaps Less Overt, Is Probably More Dangerous Because One Does Not Claw Their Way Up The Drug Food Chain By Being Nice.
At the time Mark took over, The Chelsea had at least six dealers living there. This was in addition to the assistant manager, Anderson. Therefore, visits from the police were a regular occurrence. Obviously, somebody was careless about to whom they allowed tenancy.
Brown Bros seemed to ignore all the police calls to The Chelsea.
The fact that there existed multiple dealers living at The Chelsea could not reasonably have escaped the attention of Brown Bros. It should have been difficult to ignore the large number of police calls to the building. As well, there were the inquiries from the police to Brown Bros as to who lived in this suite or that suite.
Many of the residents were active drug users. One resident had died in his suite of an overdose. Additionally, there was an incident when a resident had simply walked into his neighboring tenant’s apartment. He then pulled down his pants and defecated on the living room floor. With all that going on, the growing bed bug infestation seemed to go unnoticed.
During the tenure of Wes as building manager, a Wyatt Prince had come to me and confessed a brutal murder. I had gone to the police, and without my roommate’s knowledge, was acting as a Confidential Informant for the police. Eventually, this position morphed into me becoming a Police Agent. I actually had him move in with my roommate and me.
Accordingly, please understand that my attentions were far more occupied working in the undercover operation against Prince. I was trying to ensure that he was held accountable for the murder of Paul Rouxel. Additionally, I was trying to keep Prince’s violent and unpredictable temper from flaring up and further endangering my roommate and me. Thus, all of the drugs and drama were not a deep concern of mine.
I had to say something to the building manager.
Mark and I had developed a very good relationship. I had gone to Mark soon after he had been hired to manage the building and explained to him that there would probably be some strange comings and goings from my suite. I told him that I could only say that they were necessary and I was doing nothing wrong.
Mark seemed to trust me that there were things in my life that could not be talked about. Therefore, he accepted that they were absolutely necessary and entirely legitimate. Also, he believed me when I told him that I would ensure that nothing of my secret life would significantly impact other residents of the building.
I could not make Mark a witness
I could not tell Mark about the murder. [The public did not even know at that point that the death of Paul Rouxel was a murder]. To have told him would have made Mark a witness, after the fact. That might have involved him in the murder trial to the jeopardy of an effective prosecution.
That aside, true to his word, Mark remained understanding that there existed legitimate and necessary reasons for much of what occurred in my apartment. Among those goings on, were a couple of afternoons of undercover police technicians wiring my suite for sound and video. Then there was Prince wandering in and out at all hours of the night. I honored my promise to Mark by ensuring that no other tenants were unreasonably disturbed as a result thereof.
Some months into Mark’s tenure as manager, I awoke one morning to find that Mark and his woman had skipped with the rents. They had simply pulled up stakes in the middle of the night and moved on with all the rent money. That included mine.
There was a reason they had encouraged tenants to pay with cash. Although they threatened to, when the dust settled, Brown Bros could not legally pursue me for the rent. I advised other tenants who were in the same position as I that they should also refuse to reimburse Brown Bros. It was Brown Bros’ mistake in hiring a criminal.
Then I was warned by Anderson that I was drawing the ire of Brown Bros. Evidently, Brown Bros was unappreciative of me of advising tenants of their rights in the rent fiasco. As well, Brown Bros was attempting to evict some tenants without cause and I helped those tenants.
Within Days, Despite His Criminal Record, Anderson Was Promoted To Replace Mark.
Immediately upon his promotion, Anderson gave me an ultimatum. He told me that Siddall said I stirred up too much trouble with the other residents. I was directed to give my notice of intent to move or a reason would be found to evict me. He went on to say that Siddall had never lost in a RTB arbitration hearing in some thirty different hearings. Therefore I should just hand in my walking papers. And if I did so, I would be allowed to leave at the end of the month with my security deposit.
Knowing what I knew about the criminality of the building managers and being confident that I could make a cogent presentation because of having appeared before the RTB on behalf of others on multiple occasions, I, somewhat arrogantly, told Anderson to tell Siddall that I would voluntarily move out for $1,500 in cash and free rent for a month. I told him that I was neither impressed, nor intimidated by Siddall. I told Anderson to tell Siddall that he was playing well above his pay grade and intellect.
Siddall, Representing Brown Bros, At Least Thus Far To My Observations, Had Simply Spent His Time Jumping Between The Frying Pan And The Fire
So, let’s recap what had occurred so far regarding the master keys. First they had been given to Wes, a building manager who may have been involved in the possible running of a call girl service from The Chelsea. Next they were given to Mark, a con man who ran with the rent money.
With two unsafe decisions as to who should have master keys to the suites, Siddall’s next move was to promote the drug dealer friend of Mark’s to resident manager. Thus, he gave Anderson control of the master keys.
This promotion occurred in spite of the fact that Siddall could not have known if Anderson had played any part in the rent fraud scam. Also, it was done without running a criminal record check on Anderson. Or if having run such a check, Anderson’s criminal record was ignored, and he was hired in spite of it.
Do you know if the property management company where you live runs criminal record checks on the individuals to whom they give master keys?
After Anderson’s braggadocios taunt about Siddall’s prowess in front of the RTB and my refusal to knuckle under to Anderson’s demand, Brown Bros had me served with an eviction notice. They claimed that my rabbit was forbidden by my lease. They also made a series of other claims. Somewhat miffed, I then informed the other residents, in writing, of Anderson’s criminal record.
Brown Bros responded by putting out a letter to the tenants denying that Anderson had a criminal record. I responded to that false claim by sliding a copy of Anderson’s criminal record under the doors of the other tenants.
Apparently more concerned about their reputation than the tenants’ safety, rather than relieve Anderson of his duties -in fact, Anderson was still managing The Chelsea months afterward- Brown Bros had police sent to my door to investigate how I had gotten hold of Anderson’s criminal record. That issue was resolved when I showed the police that criminal court records are public information.
In fighting the eviction notice, Anderson’s taunt about Siddall’s prowess in front of the Residential Tenancy Branch proved less than prophetic. I successfully fended off the eviction. I was able to prove I had done nothing that violated my lease agreement. Additionally, I presented a letter given me earlier by Mark granting permission for my rabbit.
That’s Not The Signature I Would Use, So It Must Be a Forgery, Hmmm…
Siddall’s response to that letter was not to deny it was his signature, but instead, to say that he regularly used two different signatures and that the signature on this particular letter was not one he would have used on such a document. I found that very strange. Nevertheless, rather than argue with his implication that the document was a forgery, I pointed out to the arbitrator, that forged or not, I had every right to rely on that document as it was given to me on Brown Bros’ stationary and by Siddall’s employee. I said that it was Brown Bros who had hired the criminal, not me. Therefore, I should not be punished because of Siddall’s lack of oversight or judgement in doing so.
By this time, the murder trial of Wyatt Prince had by concluded. Therefore, I had no reason to remain at The Chelsea. That being the case, I simply negotiated an end to my tenancy agreement. Siddall, rather than risking leaving the matter to the arbitrator’s ruling, agreed that my roommate and I be awarded what amounted to approximately $2,000 in free rent and cash.
The Former Managers Have Now Moved On
As I write this, I have heard that Anderson is no longer working for Brown Bros. If true, when exactly he left its employ I do not know, but Siddall is still in a high management position with the company.
I don’t have a clue as to where Wes now works, nor do I care. As far as Mark goes, I am still not sure of his real name. Nevertheless I smile every time that I think of the twinkle in his eye when I paid my rent. In retrospect, I am delighted that I paid it in cash.
Wyatt Prince was found guilty of home invasion and manslaughter. He is currently serving out the remainder of his sentence in a federal prison. My roommate is clean and sober after a fifteen year struggle with addiction. And I still try to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. I continue helping people into recovery and assisting people in fighting improper eviction notices.
Current Policies And Practices Of Brown Bros And Other Property Management Companies Regarding Master Keys And Building Managers
I have no idea who manages The Chelsea at present. For that matter, I don’t know who might manage any other Brown Bros’ properties. I also have no idea what the current policies and practices of Brown Bros might be regarding criminal record checks. Additionally, my ignorance extends to the practices or policies of other property management companies.
However I do know that the evidence shows that somebody was grossly derelict in their duties at The Chelsea. I believe that property management companies should be required to run criminal record checks on those whom they hire to manage rentals for them. This is especially true when any hirees will have access to tenants’ suites.
Do You Know Who Has Been Given A Master Key To Your Suite?
Wondering Whether A Criminal Would Make A Copy Of A Master Key Is Akin To Wondering If Squirrel Poop Smells Nutty.
“Do Not Duplicate” doesn’t mean a thing to a criminal. Any key can be duplicated with a few minutes effort.
Did Mark or Anderson make a copy of the master key? I have no idea, but Brown Bros could not have known either. Yet they refused to re-key.
The Need For Master Keys Is A Deeply Flawed Concept
This entire idea of the need for a master key is a farce presented to you under the guise of “security”. It actually makes you less secure. Its only real purpose is to make life more convenient for the rental management companies. While it may be true that access to your suite in case of an emergency might be required, that access can come as easily through the use of an extra key specific to your lock. This would nullify any need for a master keys to suites.
How is anybody more secure when a single key gives access to all suites, as opposed to a specific duplicate key being required for each suite? Thus, a criminal wanting access to all the suites in a particular building only needs to obtain and duplicate a single key if the building is on a master key system. This is as opposed to needing to duplicate many keys if there is not a master key system.
Property Management Companies Have A Vested Interest In Maintaining A Master Key System If One Already Exists In The Building
Master key systems are expensive propositions. They require that every lock in a building must be re-keyed if the property management company decides that the master keys for inside suites should be replaced. With costs in the thousands of dollars most management companies prefer to find a rationalization as why they believe their key system is still safe even though they know better. Allowing management to make these critical decisions is akin to having the fox guard the hen house.
The truth is that management companies have no idea what a disgruntled or criminal employee might have done with the master key. Thus, they have no idea if your suite, or any suite, is secure. The further truth is that they are highly unlikely to act against their own financial self interests.
If you rent in a building that has a master key system, then ask if you would be allowed to replace the lock if you provided a duplicate key to management.
If you are denied the right to change locks, then go to the Residential Tenancy Branch and make application to be allowed to do so. I have been successful with such applications in the past. In fact, I was successful against Brown Bros in this instance when they refused my request.
Here are the concerns in a nutshell. Answer these questions
- Do we need cities to have bylaws restricting the use of master keys?
- Should criminal record checks be required for building managers?
- How many sets of master keys exist to your suite?
- Do you rent through Brown Bros?
- Do you know the history of the master keys in your building?
- Has a criminal ever run your building?
My voice is limited; yours is limitless
Do you agree or disagree? Are you concerned about master keys now? Participate in the discussion at the bottom of the page and share this article on social media with one of the links below. Make yourself heard!