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Chelsea Residents Worry That Airbnb Lock Boxes Are Putting Their Homes At Risk

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Lock boxes illegally scattered around Chelsea have residents worried for their own security at home, but what - and who - are they for?

They're meant to secure your keys, but when they're dangling in the middle of Eighth Avenue, your keys might not be so secure.

"I believe they're for Airbnb," Miguel Pabone said.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reported, Pabone isn't the only one who said he's seen tourists rummaging through the boxes for building keys.

On 21st Street, resident Pamela Wolff said she tried helping some lost tourists a few weeks ago. It turned out they couldn't figure out which lock box held keys to the apartment they were renting.

"They were looking for access into the building because they had bought into an Airbnb," she said.

Airbnb has no rules regarding how keys are transferred. When asked about the policy Airbnb directed CBS2 to their website which encourages tenants to use 'the almighty lock box' to hand off keys.

Many residents worry that the thing that's locking their buildings could be hanging on their sidewalk.

"If they know what's in there they could easily pick the locks because they pick the locks on the bikes," Christopher Shea said.

Fences around the trees are city property and the private lock boxes aren't allowed to be there.

Those who place the boxes on city property could face a fine of up to $400, but without markings it's hard to tell who they belong to. Four hang directly outside 300 W. 21st St. The landlord assured CBS2 over the phone that no Airbnb listings are inside.

"I am the landlord so it's certainly not me, and if I found out any tenants were doing it I would tell them immediately to get rid of that Airbnb person, it's illegal," Zev Feldstein said.

For now, residents are forced to lock up and look out. CBS2 has reached out to the mayor's office of special enforcement which deals with Airbnb issues, they have yet to respond.

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