Security for Thousands of Austin Buildings Compromised Due to Stolen Master Key
A master key that allows first responders easy and quick access to apartment complexes and commercial buildings was recently found in the possession of a burglary suspect.
- By Sydny Shepard
- Jan 11, 2018
The security of thousands of apartment and commercial buildings in Austin, Texas is compromised following the realization that a master key that allows first responders quick and easy access to the buildings was recently found in the possession of a burglary suspect.
In a memo issued by Austin's Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano, since the local system was compromised the city is in the process of replacing the upgrading the system, which is comprised of rapid access lockboxes created to provide first responders with immediate access to secure buildings, campuses, residences and commercial properties. The system is designed to remove barriers when entering a building to reduce injuries to responders and minimize property damage.
The lockboxes are opened with a master key that is kept on each fire and emergency medical response vehicle in Travis County. The city of Austin says Austin Police arrested a man on suspicious of burglarizing two non-residential properties. The police found a master key to the access control lockboxes on the suspect.
Authorities do not know how the suspect got his hands on the master key.
Because the system has been compromised, the city is working to replace master keys as well as replace the lock cylinders on the key retention boxes on AFD and EMS vehicles. The city will also have to replace all the lock cylinders on all lockboxes located at more than 6,000 building locations around town. The initial cost of the project is an estimated $300,000.
According to the memo, "AFD and EMS will also implement a new protocol to restrict access to the keys and enhance their overall security."
Sydny Shepard is the Editor-in-Chief of Campus Security & Life Safety, a special section to Security Today.