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By Clair Jones
Whether you live an apartment or a house, you’ll want to take the same basic security measures. However, if you’re living in an apartment, you’re going to need to prepare for certain things differently than you would living in a single family home. To help you understand what you need to do to help secure your home, we’ve put together this guide.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
No matter where you live, you need to keep an eye on what’s going on around you. This means taking note of your neighbors and the friends they keep. Both before you move into a new area, and periodically throughout living in any neighborhood, it’s a good idea to check local crime reports and the National Sex Offender Registry to see who is living near you.
You can’t control everyone who walks by your home, but you can be observant. By getting to know your neighbors, as well as apartment management if that’s where you live, you’ll have an easier time identifying someone who shouldn’t be there. If you notice someone who you don’t recognize working on an apartment in your building, call your building management or 911. And, whether you live in a house or apartment complex, keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Trust your intuition and call for help if you think it’s needed. Write down license plate numbers of cars that appear to have someone “casing the area,” as well as details about the car and anyone in it.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
By the very nature of apartment living, your home is part of a community and your neighbors are essential. In apartment complexes, word can spread fast, loud or unusual noises are likely heard by many, and where there are more potential witnesses for anything that happens. While the space between houses may make hearing suspicious noises or seeing strange activity more challenging, neighbors are also important in single family home scenarios. You’ll likely feel more secure having an extra set of eyes keeping watch in the neighborhood. Plus, if you’re out of town, these neighbors can pick up the mail and newspaper, shovel your driveway, and other neighborly things to make sure your home looks lived in while you’re away.
Securing Your Doors and Windows
Many apartment dwellers may think their front door is the only place that needs to be secured, but that’s not true. Even if you’re living on the fifth story of an apartment building and have a window, especially one that is accessible from a fire escape, it is important to secure all possible points of entry into your residence.
While it’s always important to lock all doors and windows, you can take your door and window security a step further by installing additional hardware. If you have a sliding door, place a solid safety bar made of metal that will help prevent the door from opening. You can also install jimmy plates that will help prevent the sliding door from being lifted off its track. With windows, there are several second locks you can easily install to help make them more secure.
Also, whether you’re in an apartment or house, don’t leave items of value on your porch, patio, or balcony that might attract a potential thief. Secure these items indoors or in a shed, as keeping them out of sight can help deter the temptations.
Using Security Systems
Many of the same security options available to homeowners are available to apartment renters. You can use cameras, motion detectors, and wireless security systems that don’t require drilling holes that might void a deposit. Many systems work wirelessly and hang on the wall with removable adhesives. Not only does this help prevent any wall damage, but many security providers even let you bring your security equipment with you when you move. Best of all, many security systems can be controlled using apps on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, so you can keep an eye on things in your home or apartment from wherever you are.
But really the biggest difference between securing an apartment and a stand-alone home against a burglary comes down to how you prepare.
Security Checklist Before Moving In
Before you sign a lease, rental agreement, or purchase a home, use this checklist to make sure you’re not overlooking safety concerns. Some of these may not apply if you’re building a home, but if you’re moving into an apartment or a house someone else has lived in, you’ll want to make sure your landlord or real estate agent is doing everything they’re supposed to. And even after you’ve signed on the dotted line, you should keep tabs on your security. Don’t consider these pointers to be 100 percent inclusive, but they’re a good start.
Make sure your doors and windows all open and shut smoothly and lock tight without effort. You want all the locks functioning smoothly, as this should never be a difficult task.
Ensure your landlord or property manager replaced the locks after the previous tenants moved out. If they didn’t, require this gets done. You never know who has a copy of your keys.
If you’re moving into an apartment building, check all exterior doors or windows that lead to common space in the building and make they’re secure. Once a potential burglar is in the building, they are one door away from your possessions.
Talk to other residents and ask them about their experiences in the neighborhood or building. If they all feel safe, you likely can too. If they all raise the same concern, consider it a red flag.
Regularly check everything: your own locks, how the exterior doors shut, if lights in hallways and alleys work, etc.