While the May 4 break-in of the Whistler Housing Authority and Mountain Country Property Management Company offices appears to be a professional job, there has been no further criminal activity associated with the break-in and overall the damage to operations appears to be minimal.
The thief or thieves forced entry into the office by breaking the lock on the door and stole a small amount of cash, a laptop, computer hard drives and a significant number of keys from the office, going as far as to remove wall photos while searching for a safe. The RCMP called in a forensics team to dust for prints and at press time the investigation was still underway.
According to the WHA's Marla Zucht, no sensitive information was taken through the theft of the computers and hard drives, although that appears to have been the motive.
"We don't keep sensitive client information," she said. "We never did have social insurance numbers, credit card numbers, banking information, personal passwords - nothing we held in the office went beyond names, addresses, phone numbers, which is information that is available anyway in community directories."
Some sensitive information like the housing waitlist is stored remotely on servers and wasn't impacted by the theft. However, it's been a challenging process for the WHA to reassemble all of their lost data, which was backed up on paper, thumb drives and other storage systems, while installing a new computer system.
On the morning the theft was discovered the WHA made a decision to replace roughly 180 locks at their rental properties, a process that took three days. In the meantime they notified renters about the break-in and advised them to be on the look-out for suspicious activity. The WHA also hired security to watch over those rental properties until all of the keys could be replaced.
The WHA office does not currently have an alarm system because the office is located in a residential building that has its own card-key lock. It's still unknown how the thief or thieves accessed the building, but it's not uncommon for residents to prop open the front door while bringing in bicycles or groceries and then forget to close it.
Zucht says they will likely install a security system in the future.