'It's been more than a month': NB Housing loses master key to hundreds of apartments

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Investigation into lost NB Housing master key ordered

NB Housing hurried Friday to replace locks and add security at housing units in Saint John after a set of custodial keys, including a master key capable of opening hundreds of individual apartments, disappeared more than 35 days ago.

Sgt. Charles Breen of the Saint John police said NB Housing reported the lost keys to police on March 22, but they had been missing since Feb. 13. In a later email, Breen clarified that a police report on the keys did not indicate that NB Housing knew they were missing Feb. 13. 

On Friday two NB Housing workers were going door to door on Anglin Crescent, changing locks in the north end neighbourhood.

The cost of fixing the problem is not known.

CBC News reached out to Lenny England, 54, who was the custodian responsible for the lost keys, but he said he was unable to comment.

Brenda Rathburn, a tenant who was aware for quite a while that the keys were missing, said it was a comfort to see the situation being addressed, but she felt the delay required some explanation. 

"I don't have any apprehension about going to bed at night anymore," she said. "But I just feel Housing [took] a long time getting around to doing something after they were informed. It's been more than a month."

Tenants receive updates

The Department of Social Development did not acknowledge there had been a delay. A spokeswoman said the department takes security seriously and it took immediate action after learning about the master key.

Spokeswoman Anne Mooers did not say how many units were affected or where they were located, other than in Saint John.

Tenants received undated notices in their mailbox that informed them a set of keys had been recently lost.

"The safety and security of all our tenants is very important. Therefore, we will be changing the locks on your Public Housing unit as soon as possible," said the notice.

"Additional security will be placed around all affected buildings until all locks have been changed."