The Austin City Council approved a plan Thursday to replace security boxes in apartments and commercial buildings across the city, months after police investigators said one of the master keys first responders use was likely stolen and used in burglaries.
Per the council’s direction, the overhaul is not to exceed $300,000, which is how much city staffers estimated it would cost to purchase lock boxes, keys and related services to replace these security systems.
In November, authorities arrested 28-year-old Anthony Kavanaugh on the suspicion that he had burglarized at least two different medical properties. Police say Kavanaugh used keys that were obtained from one of the lockboxes, which had to be opened using a master key, court documents show.
Police have recovered the master key since then and found no indication that anyone else was involved in the burglaries, Austin city officials said.
The city eventually plans to replace the devices that hold the keys inside first responders’ vehicles, and this is estimated to cost $1.5 million, according to a city memo issued last month.
Certain high-occupancy buildings are required by city code to supply a lockbox with the keys or access cards to the properties placed outside the buildings to give first responders immediate access in the event of an emergency. Knox Associates — the company that City Council agreed on Thursday to contract with — supplies the lockboxes and the master keys.
A master key is kept on each fire and emergency medical response vehicle in Travis County, the memo says.