Faulty INTELLIKEYs result in campus safety concerns among students and faculty

Maggie Seppi

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By: Maggie Seppi, Assistant News Editor

 

(Photo by Sean Murphy)

An incident in Osprey Landing during the 2011 Thanksgiving break prompted UPD to investigate the theft of several items, including an Apple iPad and floor safe.

 

According to the police report released Nov. 28, a burglar entered a dorm room through the front door and stole multiple items, all valued at more than $700. Both residents were not in their room Nov. 23 – Nov. 26. The officer in charge ran a key audit to find out who entered the room during this timeframe.

 

UPD released a follow-up report Nov. 30 that detailed the suspect’s name, as well as how he gained entry to the room.

 

UNF student Donald Farmer is suspected of entering the room after discovering his INTELLIKEY allowed him to unlock several doors in the university housing units.

 

The officer was able to identify the suspect through the master key audit system, INTELLIKEY, which identifies the students’ assigned rooms in the housing units, according to the police report. It listed the suspect’s key as being placed in the lock of the victims’ rooms Nov. 25, putting Farmer at the scene.

 

Farmer said he discovered his housing INTELLIKEY unlocked several doors in the university housing units, according to the police report. Farmer said he entered the victims’ room while they were out of town for Thanksgiving Break and proceeded to remove the property.

 

Farmer declined to comment after numerous phone calls and text messages over the course of five weeks.

 

UNF Director of Housing and Residence Life Paul Riel said there have been prior key malfunctions, but none resulting in theft as this one did.

 

There was a previous instance where, if a key unlocked one door, then was used to unlock another door soon after, it would successfully unlock both because it had not been given ample time to forget the information from the first door, Riel said.

 

To remedy the issue, UNF Housing staff went through the keys and reprogrammed each of them, giving them more time to forget the information they stored from door to door.

 

“We’ve had minor incidents, where students find their keys can access more than just their dorm room, but they’ve always been reported,” Riel said.

 

The university looked into the programming done on campus to try and find how Farmer came into possession of a key with such abilities, Riel said, but it found the programming issue started at INTELLIKEY headquarters. He then attempted to contact the company to figure out where the programming malfunction specifically occurred.

 

As of Feb. 14, INTELLIKEY has not given an official response, Riel said.

 

The Spinnaker attempted to reach INTELLIKEY headquarters, but the operator declined to comment further and said the issue would have to be resolved through UNF security. She also declined to give her name.

 

According to its website, INTELLIKEY’s products and services are used in public and private entities, such as government agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, shopping centers and airports. One such school is the University of Central Florida.

 

UCF’s Associate Director of Housing Joe Paulick said it also uses INTELLIKEY, as well as a card access system and standard hard keys.

 

In his 10 years at the university, it has never had an incident similar to UNF’s, he said.

 

“We’ve had a staff member or an RA lose a master key, but I don’t think we’ve had an INTELLIKEY master key lost,” Paulick said. “And we haven’t had anyone go into anyone’s room with a key like that.”

 

Three UNF students who live on campus, although unaware of the 2011 Thanksgiving Break incident, said they have experienced their own issues with their dorm INTELLIKEYs.

 

“My key had been working fine all day, but I couldn’t even get through the main doors to the Fountains when I came home one night,” said Matt Sayre, a UNF economics freshman who lives in Osprey Fountains.

 

Jazmina Poling, UNF international relations freshman, said she has also experienced malfunctions with her INTELLIKEY.

 

“I found out on accident that my key could open other doors,” Poling said. “My key opened a door in the Crossings, and I live in the Cove.”

 

Hannah Wimer, a UNF athletic training freshman who lives in the Crossings, said she knew of a fellow student who had a master key during the 2011 Summer semester.

(Photo by Sean Murphy)

 

The students said they have little trust in INTELLIKEY, due to their experiences.

 

“It’s all a crock,” Sayre said. “[INTELLIKEY] is a good concept for RAs, but at the same time, like any system, it can always be hacked.”

 

Poling and Wimer said, despite knowing someone could have access to their rooms, they sleep comfortably. They do, however, lack trust in the key’s ability to ward off unwanted visitors and still consider what could happen if someone were to enter their rooms.

 

UNF Housing is now looking to switch from INTELLIKEY to another key and lock service.

 

“In the last 10 days, we have met with a key and lock consultant who gave us a proposal, and we hope to start at least in the housing area,” Riel said. “Our plan is to move away from INTELLIKEY.”

 

Email Maggie Seppi at [email protected]

 

Watch this animated short based on the story you’ve just read. It was created by a student in the Applied Journalism class at UNF.