High density housing is a foreign concept to me. I am a pseudo country gal who is used to being surrounded by a couple of acres. I like my space (well and my piano which I have a habit of playing at 11:00 at night—not a great habit if you want your neighbors to actually like you). I am not, nor do I pretend to be an apartment expert. However, thanks to Google and some investigative journalist skills, I now proclaim myself an apartment security expert. Okay, not really, but I am still going to give it a go.
As I was researching, I was surprised to find that some believe apartments to be more secure than homes because there are less points of entry. While that may be true, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, renters are twice as likely to be burglarized than homeowners. There are several reasons for this, but the most prevalent is that apartment complexes have people (that you don’t necessarily know) coming and going all the time, so it’s easier for a thief to blend in with the crowd. Oftentimes, the thief will live within a couple miles of those rentals they target.
Obviously, not everyone wants to or can afford a house and not every apartment complex is full of crooks waiting to pounce. The security of apartment buildings depends on multiple factors, one of which is their location. If they are on the wrong side of town, then of course they will attract the wrong type of tenants. However, there are a few ways to make your individual apartment more secure as well as ways for landlords to make the entire complex more secure.
For Individuals and Their Apartments
As a renter there are some risks you should be aware of as well as ways to deter thieves and other criminals from entering your apartment.
Choose the location
First, do your research and discover what neighborhoods are the safest. The location of the apartment is something that you cannot change. This may become a balancing game as you try to choose between features, commute times, price, and more but the location is set in stone. I play this game every time I am renting a place for a vacation. Sometimes I will spend hours researching different locations and rentals for a small, three-day trip. If you are putting your name on a year-long lease, you should want to spend at least this much time researching the location of an apartment.
Another part of choosing your location is deciding what floor you want to be on. It stinks to move in and out of a third-floor walk-up (I know this from first-hand experience when I moved a close friend out of one) but the ground floor is the most likely to be targeted by thieves. You have to decide what will be the best for you, but this is a risk you should be aware of.
Upgrade the security measures
Apartments tend to have cookie cutter hardware. This includes their locks on their windows and doors. Some leases will allow you to change and update the locks in your apartment, providing you give the landlord a copy of the new key. Other small alarms, deadbolts, chains, or doorstops are further steps to consider. Once you know what changes you can make, implement them.
While the front door is the way most thieves prefer to get in and out of your unit, the windows are often the most vulnerable. Some older apartment buildings don’t have locks on your windows so all a thief would have to do is wiggle the glass to get in. Window locks are cheap and easy to install. If you do go with the third-floor walk-up, then this tip has less pertinence than if you are on the ground floor. However, it is still possible to have windows on the landing or with access to a fire escape.
Hang blinds and hide valuables
As simple as this sounds, most burglars target apartments where they know what they’re getting. Many thieves will case potential targets before actually robbing them. Therefore, if they can’t see into your space, they will often go elsewhere. However, if you have a huge pile of cash sitting on a table under the window for days on end, the thief will naturally target you.
The easiest way to prevent thieves from seeing your valuables is to put them away. This can even include purchasing a small safe that you can put under your bed or in a closet. However, if you have a habit of leaving piles of cash or other valuables in a visible area, you may want to hang some solid curtains or drapes.
Actually use the security measures
This tip might seem silly. After all who would upgrade their locks, add a safe for their valuables, and hang beautiful new drapes and not use them? Multiple surveys show that many Americans don’t. In fact, Nationwide Insurance conducted a study and found that as many as 25% of Americans leave their doors unlocked when they leave the house allowing nearly one-third of all burglars to enter through the front door.
My brother lived in Dallas, Texas for a few years. One day, his neighbors did not lock the door to their apartment when they left for the day. When they came back that evening, they found a homeless man in their bathroom. They immediately knocked on my brother’s door, called the police, and reported it to their landlord. The situation was resolved quickly, and there was no lasting damage. However, the whole incident could have been avoided had they locked their door. Learn from this experience and actually use the security measures in your apartment.
For Landlords and Their Property
There’s another side to apartment security and that’s for the landlords. If you are a landlord, you want your complex to be secure. It attracts good tenants and is just good business. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your tenants and your property.
Install good lighting
Lighting is a simple way to increase security around your building. Criminals don’t like to be seen and, by installing lighting, you take away places for them to hide. Entrances and exits are the first places to install good lighting, but you should also consider the parking lot, any dark alleys, and around the dumpster.
While lighting does help increase security, it isn’t a failsafe. In fact, most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when it is the most likely no one will be home. That’s why it is important to install other security measures. Depending on the type of complex and its access, you could consider installing access controls. These systems are simple and use either a code or a keycard to control who can enter the property. This creates a minimal amount of inconvenience for tenants and still allows them to come and go freely. It does, however, automatically restrict easy access to potential criminals and vandals.
Encourage a community
Perhaps the simplest way to increase security is to help your tenants get to know each other. That way they will be more aware when strangers are wondering about the property or there is suspicious activity. Some easy ways to encourage a community is to create events or to post announcements that promote interaction. While events may have been canceled because of COVID-19, you can still encourage a neighborhood email and text message group as well as other online interactions that will help residents recognize each other.
Install security cameras
This may be the most important step because the best security camera for apartments can actually deter criminals. Traditional cameras are hidden and are great at collecting evidence. However, if you install visible cameras, they can deter crimes from happening in the first place in addition to collecting evidence.
LiveView Technologies partners with housing communities across the nation. Our units are placed around the outside of the building(s) and can help you detect, deter, defend your property as well as your tenant’s. They help deter thieves, vandals, and other criminals. Our units are also equipped with multiple deterrents like two-way speakers, a flood light, and colored strobe lights. Furthermore, if a crime does happen, you will have high quality video of any incident that you can use as evidence.
One of our units was placed outside of an apartment complex along the East Coast. The unit was actually placed there by the local police department who was investigating a crime a few buildings away. However, after their investigation was complete and they came to remove the unit, residents in the apartment building begged them (three separate times) to leave it because it had drastically reduced the number of incidents at their complex.
LVT Units are uniquely equipped for apartment security. They are completely mobile and do not rely on traditional power or internet connections. This means they can be deployed in your parking lot, behind your building, next to the dumpster, or even inside the complex’s courtyard. If you are interested in learning more read our housing use case doc.