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Landlord upgrades Coe Building security in wake of burglaries

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
The Coe Building is seen at the corner of Main and Cross streets in downtown Bangor Sunday afternoon, July 22, 2012.
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — While some may call it locking the doors after the electronic equipment has been stolen, Coe Building landlord Paul Cook looks at it as better late than never when it comes to security and safety.

“We’ve spent almost all of our time this week — and thousands of dollars — upgrading existing security systems and installing new ones,” said Cook, who is also the owner of Maine Real Estate Management LLC, which is located in the building. “We’ve put in a massive number of new cameras to record activity along with motion detectors.

“We feel it was necessary to give our tenants the comfort they needed to do business.”

The security upgrade at the 72,000-square-foot building in downtown Bangor comes in the wake of a monthlong downtown burglary spree that has hit 15 businesses — seven alone in the Coe Building.

The most recent wave of burglaries, at Harlow Street businesses, was reported to police Monday.

“In retrospect, I figured [burglarizing] was all done after the first couple incidents with Coe, so maybe we could have moved a little quicker with our security upgrades,” said Cook, a real estate manager for 22 years who also owns five other buildings. “Hey, I admit, I’m one step behind them.

“Absolutely I should’ve looked at it more closely, but security hasn’t been a pressing issue for the last 20 years and I didn’t think they’d be coming right back so quickly.”

Cook has hired three local businesses to install, replace or improve cameras and other security equipment:

• Omega Security of Brewer has installed new and replacement high-resolution, infrared cameras, which will now have video storage capacity lasting 1½ to three months, and motion sensors all through the inside of the Coe Building, which is bordered by Main, Columbia and Cross streets. The building has numerous tenants, including the Antique Marketplace and Cafe at 65 Main St. The security system can be remotely monitored.

• Integrity Electric of Holden is redoing some of the exterior and interior lighting to eliminate any dark or dead spots in areas that were considered vulnerable.

• AAA Lock Safe & Security of Brewer has replaced all the exterior locks and some of the interior ones as well.

“We would have preferred to spend this money on some other projects we have in the works, but we felt this is something we needed to do at this time,” Cook said. “We went all out because I figured if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right.”

Cook and John Couri, who co-own the Coe Building, and Real Estate Management officers have also hired security guards to do staggered patrols.

More than $2,000 in damage done by burglars using pry bars and hammers to get into offices in the Coe Building has also been repaired.

“It’s such a big building, but it still has beautiful, original woodwork inside, so it’s great that it’s being repaired,” said Cintia Miranda, who owns Pulse Marketing Agency, which lost $4,000 worth of equipment in one of the break-ins. “Our glass door was replaced.”

Miranda, who had already made an appointment with ADT Security Services before her break-in, had a security system installed inside her office in addition to the upgrades done inside and outside the building.

“I think I got the support I needed from Paul and from city councilors, who contacted me and mentioned they would like to have a meeting about [the burglary spree],” she said. “It’s gotten a lot of attention and I’m feeling good.”

Cook said the Coe Building, which he and his business partners bought in 2001, is a challenge to secure.

“We’ve spent this entire week on ways to increase security here,” he said. “It’s a giant building bordered by three main streets with 172 windows, four main entrances and 30 to 40 tenants.”

Cook said he still hasn’t figured out, nor have police told him, how burglars gained entry into the Coe Building in the first place.

“It wasn’t roof access and we change the locks all the time,” Cook said. “And we’re extremely confident that none of the current tenants had anything to do with this.

“We’ll get them. They’ll get caught. I don’t have any doubt that they’ll eventually be caught.”

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