Is the owner of a building responsible for theft of personal equipment in it?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is the owner of a building responsible for theft of personal equipment in it?

So basically I left my personal computer inside my office in a co-working space

owned and rented out by a company. Thus, the company I work with, rents one

part of the floor. The access to the building was very unsecured, anyone could come in and out without access checks. My personally owned and used computer was stolen in the early morning, as well as 2 other PC’s from other colleagues. We made a report to the police which came and took fingerprints CCTV images etc. Since then, the company owning the building and the company I work for keep saying it’s the other’s fault/responsibility. I checked with my personal insurance, they won’t cover since in the office, which I totally understand. Thus my question what law or rule exists? Who should cover and come up for the loss? The owner of the building responsible for a too loose security or my company?

Asked on July 24, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are responsible for the theft and have to bear the loss personally:
1) An employer is not responsible for thefts from or other crimes committed against its employees, unless the employer caused or directed the theft. A theft is an action against the law (so against what is expected or required), and only the thief is responsible his or her own criminal acts.
2) A property owner is only very rarely responsible for criminal acts committed at its property, under the same logic as above.
3) If you knew the building was, as you describe, unsecured, the it was negligent or carelss of you to leave your computer there; you own negligence would preclude you from recovering compensation from another, since people may not receive compensation to the extent their own negligence caused their loss.
Therefore, there are several reasons why neither the building nor company are liable for the theft.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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