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Displaced high-rise residents reporting burglaries

January 16, 2011 3:22:51 PM PST
Authorities say several tenants displaced by a parking garage collapse in northern New Jersey last summer were also the victims of burglaries that occurred while their high-rise apartment building was shuttered.

Thieves reportedly made off with about $21,000 worth of iPods, jewelry and other items from units at the Prospect Towers in Hackensack.

Police reports show five of the burglaries could have occurred just days after the July 16 collapse. Tenants were barred from the building then due to safety concerns.

The remaining thefts took place between August and November, when residents were escorted and strictly supervised each time they retrieved belongings from the structure.

Authorities say that strict supervision of tenants and the absence of evidence suggests the thieves could have forced their way into the units or somehow had access to a master key. But they also note that many people - including contractors and their staffs, building managers, housekeepers and others - had access to the building after the collapse and during the many months the site was shut for repairs.

No one was injured when a 20-foot long steel and plexiglass canopy and two floors of the three-level garage partially collapsed July 16. A second section came down a day later, severing utility lines, and most residents were not allowed to return to their homes until late last month.

Officials say the cause of the collapse still isn't known.

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