Safety and Security Tips for Apartment Dwellers

When most people think of home security they think of keeping their free-standing house safe with alarms and home monitoring systems. But there are important considerations for the large portion of society who lives in apartments or condominiums as. Apartment dwellers and condo owners may believe that doormen, controlled entry ways and the community-feel of a shared building are all the security they need. The truth is that apartments are burgled just as frequently as houses. Most buildings have a large number of tenants and guests coming and going at all times making it more difficult to spot an intruder.

Apartment and condo owners may feel powerless when it comes to the security of their space. They believe that it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that everything is safe. While the majority of that responsibility does fall on the property owner, there are still a number of things you can do to increase the level of security in and around your building.

An Act of Opportunity

Never underestimate the value of your belongings. People make the mistake of thinking that since they do not own anything worth stealing; no one would go through the effort of breaking into their apartment. Like most crime, burglary is an act of opportunity. It is important to ensure that all your doors are locked at all times. You might think you are just running down to the laundry or mail room and it won’t take a minute, but a robber can be in and out of your apartment with an arm load of your possessions, in only a matter of minutes. Windows should be closed and locked while you are out of the apartment. Open windows are the preferred point of entry for intruders.

What You Can Do

Since a burglary is primarily an act of opportunity be sure to minimize that opportunity.

o When you are away on vacation, have a close friend or relative collect your mail and newspapers. Piled-up mail is something burglars will watch for as a sign that you are away.

o When away, notify a neighbor, as well as your landlord. Tell them how long you will be away and who will be looking after your mail, plants or pets. This way, they will be on the lookout for someone who does not belong entering or exiting your apartment.

o Another precaution if you are going to be away, or will be working late is to have your lights set on a timer. This creates the illusion that someone is, in fact, home.

Do not ever let strangers into the building! A robber may buzz any unit, until someone lets him in, claiming to be a neighbor who has forgotten his keys. Simply tell him to contact the landlord. Also be wary of strangers waiting outside the building for someone to come in or out, so they can enter while the door is open. Close the door quickly behind you. Do not be afraid to call the police if there is a suspicious looking person lurking around the building or hanging out for lengthy amount of time in a parked car. It is better to have the police come and check out the situation than to risk your safety.

Talk To Your Landlord

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property has sufficient lighting. If there are dark areas, or burnt-out lights notify your landlord immediately. The parking lot and the entry-way into the building should be well lit, and visible from the street. When walking up to the building at night, be sure to stay alert. A criminal will always look for an easy target, not someone who looks focused, confident and aware.

And if you’re considering moving or looking for a new apartment, there are some things you should ask about before you move into any building:

o Is there a buzz code system?

o Are there closed circuit cameras on the premises?

o Are there names on the front of the door, or just the unit number? If names must be on the door, or buzz codes then ask if you can simply have your first initial.

o Is there a security guard on staff?

o Are the locks changed between tenants?

o Would you feel comfortable communicating your security concerns with your landlord? If you do not feel comfortable with your landlord then the building itself is not for you.

Know Your Community

Finally, it is most important to get to know your neighbors and the neighborhood. Attend neighborhood watch meetings, condo meetings, and tenant community gatherings. Join in some community centre activities. Smile and say hello to your neighbors as you pass them in the halls, chat in the laundry room, and introduce yourself when you move in. If you and your community are on friendly terms, you will be more likely to work together and look out for one another, and you will also be more likely to notice someone in the area who does not belong.

Your safety and security is equally as important if you live in a shared building as in a house. Your landlord might be responsible for many of the security elements of the property but there are always other things you can do to keep yourself and your belongings safe.