Delivery practices compromise security

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Delivery practices compromise security


The door codes at the entrance of residential buildings in Seoul are exposed on the walls next to the doors. The codes are written in different ways and in different locations. [CHO HAN-DAE]

It’s been less than a month since a 26-year-old man surnamed Song broke into the Central Government Complex by using a security door code that was written on the wall beside the door, but many residential complexes and universities in Seoul are guilty of the same security lapse.

The JoongAng Ilbo visited a residential complex in Suyu, Gangbuk Disctrict, on April 12, and found the numbers two, six and ninety written in Chinese on the wall beside the entrance.

Once the four digits were entered into the keypad on the building’s door, the door opened. It took less than 30 seconds to gain access.

On April 18, the JoongAng Ilbo examined 80 buildings in five places in Seoul ? Suyu and Yeokchon in Eunpyeong District, northern Seoul, Yeoksam in Gangnam District, Sillim in Gwanak District, southern Seoul and Dangsan in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul ? and found 64 buildings with their door-lock security codes written near the entrances.

Some were written on walls right next to the door-lock, while others were on the top of nearby electric meters or on the lintel of entranceways.

These numbers, presumably, were written by delivery men to make their entrance into the building more convenient.

“In multiplex houses where the residents don’t have places to keep their packages, they tell me the security codes and ask me to leave it in front of their doorsteps,” said a 30-year-old delivery man who was delivering parcels in Sillim. “In case I visit the place again, I write down the code to the door-lock on the wall.”

“I’ve once seen a food delivery man go into a residential building by entering the security numbers written on the wall in the door-lock,” said a resident in Sillim. “I presume they write down the security numbers to make things easier when they come back to pick up the empty plates.”

Most of the residents questioned, however, were unaware that the security codes were written outside.

“I’ve been living in this residential building for five years and I didn’t know that the security code was written down next to the door,” said a 46-year-old resident in Suyu.

A 22-year-old resident in Yeoksam said, “It gives me goosebumps knowing that anyone can enter the building whenever they want.”

This security problem isn’t limited to residential buildings, but extends to universities, as well. As of April 16, there were dotted signs written on the wall next to the entrance to an office at a private university in Dongdaemun District, central Seoul.

The dots referred to numbers, with three dots meaning the number three and four dots meaning the number four.

The security codes in other offices within the same building were exposed in the same manner. In front of an office inside the university’s graduate school building, the codes were even written on the wall in Arabic numerals.

Such lax security protection in buildings, unsurprisingly, has been taken advantage of by criminals, such as last January, when two teenagers stole a bicycle worth 400,000 won ($352) that was standing on the first floor of a building. They testified to the police that they used a security code written on the entrance wall to enter into the building.

Also, in 2015, a teenager who stole five bicycles in Songpa, Gangdong and Gwangjin Districts using security codes written on entrances, was able to sell the bicycles off in a second-hand shopping mall site for seven months before being caught by police.

However, the delivery men who write down the door codes, despite the notable security threat that this poses, are not criminally liable. The victims of such crimes, however, can seek compensation from them through the civil court.

“There aren’t any criminal laws that can punish them,” said a police officer. “The best way to prevent such crimes is not to tell one’s door codes to other people.”

“If a delivery man writes the security code on a wall where everyone can see it,” said lawyer Choi Joo-pil, “and that leads to crimes such as theft, the delivery man can be seen as being negligent in his duties.”

“The residents of multiplex houses and workers in universities should be aware of the fact that they might become the next victims,” said Lee Yun-ho, the dean of the Dongguk University’s School of Police Administration.

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