Pensioners burgled after council fitted key safes outside sheltered homes

First published in News by

FRAIL pensioners at sheltered housing schemes have been left vulnerable to burglars after bungling council bosses fitted key safes outside their homes which can easily be opened.

Two elderly women were left terrified after electronic safes outside their homes on the Afflets Court complex in Basildon, were ripped off and smashed open and intruders entered their home in the middle of the night.

The Echo can reveal that: *Pensioners warned council bosses not to go ahead saying it would lead to burglaries

*The safes, which cost £45 each to install, were not police approved models, but residents were falsely assured by the council they were

*Residents with the safes on other complexes across the borough have not been informed of the safety concerns

*Essex Police issued a warning about the flimsy safes in February, but the council still fitted them from June

At a heated meeting about the future of the safes held for residents at Afflets Court on Friday, around 30 pensioners said they had now removed keys from the safes Some residents demanded a return to the master key system and slammed Karen Butler, sheltered housing manager, for previously assuring them the originals were police approved.

The council scrapped a master key system in June, which meant care, emergency and council staff could enter all properties in the event it was needed.

Instead properties at sheltered housing schemes across the borough had electronic safes fitted next to front doors.

In the event of an emergency staff knew the code to press to get the key out and unlock the front door.

Rod Kendell said: “I am appalled you have left so many vulnerable people open to abuse. part of the problem is the safes were not properly installed in the first place.”

He said his insurance firm had told him he would no longer be covered unless they were fitted by social services and that he found a guide to hacking the codes online.

Mrs Butler said the council now had police backed studier models which would be issued to residents free of charge.

Anyone wanting the council to keep their key inside the complex would have the choice, but this would only be for those living alone.

She said: “Sheltered housing is not a care home, it is about independent living and choice.

We want to look to the future not the past and will come and see you individually about what you want to do and work with you.

But there will be no return to the master suite (key) system.”

She also assured tenants checks had been made to ensure they were still insured.

A council spokesman said the authority was unaware there were internet guides to crack the codes and residents at other schemes had not been informed to avoid scaremongering.

Comments (23)

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12:08pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Eric Whim says...

this Council has got to go.
this Council has got to go. Eric Whim
  • Score: 8

12:23pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Olivia2847 says...

Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll!
Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll! Olivia2847
  • Score: 3

12:38pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Ian P says...

Olivia2847 wrote:
Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll!
The first head should be that of Karen Butler.
[quote][p][bold]Olivia2847[/bold] wrote: Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll![/p][/quote]The first head should be that of Karen Butler. Ian P
  • Score: 3

12:46pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Nebs says...

Ian P wrote:
Olivia2847 wrote:
Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll!
The first head should be that of Karen Butler.
How much is she paid to be head of sheltered housing?
[quote][p][bold]Ian P[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Olivia2847[/bold] wrote: Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll![/p][/quote]The first head should be that of Karen Butler.[/p][/quote]How much is she paid to be head of sheltered housing? Nebs
  • Score: 3

12:53pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Eric Whim says...

Nebs wrote:
Ian P wrote:
Olivia2847 wrote:
Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll!
The first head should be that of Karen Butler.
How much is she paid to be head of sheltered housing?
too much
[quote][p][bold]Nebs[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ian P[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Olivia2847[/bold] wrote: Incredible ineptitude - hope heads will roll![/p][/quote]The first head should be that of Karen Butler.[/p][/quote]How much is she paid to be head of sheltered housing?[/p][/quote]too much Eric Whim
  • Score: 4

12:57pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Mixed Pickles says...

Residents at other schemes had not been informed to avoid scaremongering ? To avoid massive embarrassment and an admision of incompetence more likely !
Residents at other schemes had not been informed to avoid scaremongering ? To avoid massive embarrassment and an admision of incompetence more likely ! Mixed Pickles
  • Score: 3

1:33pm Tue 13 Nov 12

edgun says...

I blame the the firm asked to fit these ,they should have known these where not approved by the police ,the company involved have been in the lock business long enough ,if contractors supply sub-standard equipment they are the one at fault ,also sheltered housing management should had check themselves regarding these key-safes ,let hope they can sort out this mess sooner than later
I blame the the firm asked to fit these ,they should have known these where not approved by the police ,the company involved have been in the lock business long enough ,if contractors supply sub-standard equipment they are the one at fault ,also sheltered housing management should had check themselves regarding these key-safes ,let hope they can sort out this mess sooner than later edgun
  • Score: 2

1:35pm Tue 13 Nov 12

edgun says...

by the way I live on a sheltered housing scheme and have had these old style safes fitted ,but now have a better safe ,I have checked online and these new ones are of a very high standard.
by the way I live on a sheltered housing scheme and have had these old style safes fitted ,but now have a better safe ,I have checked online and these new ones are of a very high standard. edgun
  • Score: 2

1:36pm Tue 13 Nov 12

shallotman says...

Couldn't make this up could you.
Couldn't make this up could you. shallotman
  • Score: 2

2:35pm Tue 13 Nov 12

jolllyboy says...

Cost cutting rubbish. Why o why dont they ask the experts - police - when doing something like this. How much do they pay consultants on less important issues.........
Cost cutting rubbish. Why o why dont they ask the experts - police - when doing something like this. How much do they pay consultants on less important issues......... jolllyboy
  • Score: 1

4:44pm Tue 13 Nov 12

firedog says...

Its good to know the experts posting on here have never made a mistake,or have they? I bet they could all run things better than anyone else,or could they?
Its good to know the experts posting on here have never made a mistake,or have they? I bet they could all run things better than anyone else,or could they? firedog
  • Score: 1

5:20pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Devils Advocate says...

"She said: “Sheltered housing is not a care home, it is about independent living and choice.

We want to look to the future not the past and will come and see you individually about what you want to do and work with you.

But there will be no return to the master suite (key) system.”"


That says it all really. "About independent living and choice, except if you choose the master suite keys?"

As for firedog, I don't claim expertise, but. when your responsibility is the safety of others, you do not have room for mistakes. your sarcasm does nothing. The main reason for Karen Butler's higher pay is because of the higher responsibility. She failed to protect her charges. She should be sacked for that.Mistakes are not part of her remit.
"She said: “Sheltered housing is not a care home, it is about independent living and choice. We want to look to the future not the past and will come and see you individually about what you want to do and work with you. But there will be no return to the master suite (key) system.”" That says it all really. "About independent living and choice, except if you choose the master suite keys?" As for firedog, I don't claim expertise, but. when your responsibility is the safety of others, you do not have room for mistakes. your sarcasm does nothing. The main reason for Karen Butler's higher pay is because of the higher responsibility. She failed to protect her charges. She should be sacked for that.Mistakes are not part of her remit. Devils Advocate
  • Score: -1

5:32pm Tue 13 Nov 12

firedog says...

I never said she was right, but I have yet to meet anyone who has not made a mistake,so you would sack a lot of people.
I never said she was right, but I have yet to meet anyone who has not made a mistake,so you would sack a lot of people. firedog
  • Score: 1

6:30pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Devils Advocate says...

firedog wrote:
I never said she was right, but I have yet to meet anyone who has not made a mistake,so you would sack a lot of people.
Yes I am afraid so, but they would be only those with massive payments for the responsibility they have, which they fail to fulfil.
But conscientious working people I could and would forgive. They are the true creators of wealth, not the greedy money grubbers who think all they need do is command, not command respect!
[quote][p][bold]firedog[/bold] wrote: I never said she was right, but I have yet to meet anyone who has not made a mistake,so you would sack a lot of people.[/p][/quote]Yes I am afraid so, but they would be only those with massive payments for the responsibility they have, which they fail to fulfil. But conscientious working people I could and would forgive. They are the true creators of wealth, not the greedy money grubbers who think all they need do is command, not command respect! Devils Advocate
  • Score: -1

9:00pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Almeda11 says...

Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly.
They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us.
And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!!
Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly. They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us. And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!! Almeda11
  • Score: 0

11:03pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Alphababy says...

What the..? How did they get away with lying to the residents, saying that it was Police approved? And where has common sense disappeared to in this country?
What the..? How did they get away with lying to the residents, saying that it was Police approved? And where has common sense disappeared to in this country? Alphababy
  • Score: -1

7:14am Wed 14 Nov 12

EssexBoy1956 says...

Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money.
Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money. EssexBoy1956
  • Score: 1

7:22am Wed 14 Nov 12

Ian P says...

Almeda11 wrote:
Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly. They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us. And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!!
I guess that Almeda11 is a further pseudonym for Jayman. The article is about failings by Basildon Council, but this post takes the opportunity of having a go at SBC anyway.
[quote][p][bold]Almeda11[/bold] wrote: Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly. They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us. And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!![/p][/quote]I guess that Almeda11 is a further pseudonym for Jayman. The article is about failings by Basildon Council, but this post takes the opportunity of having a go at SBC anyway. Ian P
  • Score: 0

9:47am Wed 14 Nov 12

InTheKnowOk says...

EssexBoy1956 wrote:
Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money.
That's not gonna help the carer/nurse get in though is it? Some of these old folk that live in residential accommodation still have people in to assist them with daily needs,
[quote][p][bold]EssexBoy1956[/bold] wrote: Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money.[/p][/quote]That's not gonna help the carer/nurse get in though is it? Some of these old folk that live in residential accommodation still have people in to assist them with daily needs, InTheKnowOk
  • Score: 1

10:02am Wed 14 Nov 12

Devils Advocate says...

EssexBoy1956 wrote:
Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money.
Our money? What, you go round robbing them or something?
From where do you get the idea that any of the money involved in any sheltered accommodation is "Our money?"
You knew about your Nan's key, perhaps, instead of making these statements you should learn a little about how old people finance themselves. And as to the "Fancy key safe" the introduction of these was basically because they got rid of the majority of wardens.
If your "1956" refers to your birthdate, then you didn't spend your time caring for your elders did you?
[quote][p][bold]EssexBoy1956[/bold] wrote: Stupid idea anyway. My old Nan always had a spare key on a piece of string tied round her neck. She didn't need a fancy key-safe! The council should be encouraging residents to be a bit more responsible, rather than wasting our money.[/p][/quote]Our money? What, you go round robbing them or something? From where do you get the idea that any of the money involved in any sheltered accommodation is "Our money?" You knew about your Nan's key, perhaps, instead of making these statements you should learn a little about how old people finance themselves. And as to the "Fancy key safe" the introduction of these was basically because they got rid of the majority of wardens. If your "1956" refers to your birthdate, then you didn't spend your time caring for your elders did you? Devils Advocate
  • Score: -1

12:26pm Wed 14 Nov 12

equalitycampaigner says...

this just shows you the ineptness of Basildon Borough Council and the real lack of awareness they have for our most Vulnerable residents!!
this just shows you the ineptness of Basildon Borough Council and the real lack of awareness they have for our most Vulnerable residents!! equalitycampaigner
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Thu 15 Nov 12

Almeda11 says...

Ian P wrote:
Almeda11 wrote: Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly. They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us. And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!!
I guess that Almeda11 is a further pseudonym for Jayman. The article is about failings by Basildon Council, but this post takes the opportunity of having a go at SBC anyway.
Well your guess is wrong! l don`t need pseudonyms thank you, can do it all on my own.
And so what if l mentioned Southend BC, in case it escaped you l was making a COMPARISON, and most councils, wherever they are, are pretty much the same.
[quote][p][bold]Ian P[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Almeda11[/bold] wrote: Typical Council stupidity, half of then can`t even spell properly. They have stupid little cycle paths that start just before Avenue Rd, Southen, go around the corner in that Rd, just for about 100 metres, then suddenly come to an abrupt end, how the Europeans, with their great cycle tracks everwhere, must be laughing at us. And outside Nazareth House, London Rd, has anyone really looked at the sign? lt has one arrow point North, and says " North", yet another one pointing South, also saying " North" !! Unbelievable that it was even allowed to be passed, but then nothing that Southend council do, or are allowed to get away with really surprises me --- but the biggest joke of all is that they think they are so CLEVER, And, always right, of course!![/p][/quote]I guess that Almeda11 is a further pseudonym for Jayman. The article is about failings by Basildon Council, but this post takes the opportunity of having a go at SBC anyway.[/p][/quote]Well your guess is wrong! l don`t need pseudonyms thank you, can do it all on my own. And so what if l mentioned Southend BC, in case it escaped you l was making a COMPARISON, and most councils, wherever they are, are pretty much the same. Almeda11
  • Score: 0

6:20pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Slimo80 says...

Some people on here clearly have personal issues to get somebody the sack, happy Christmas to you to.
Some people on here clearly have personal issues to get somebody the sack, happy Christmas to you to. Slimo80
  • Score: 0

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