How To Secure Your Apartment

How To Secure Your Apartment

You want you to feel safe at home in your apartment, especially at night and if you have kids. Although you might think your apartment is safer than a house, it might not actually be.

What are the things that make your apartment unsafe?

There are many points of entry in your apartment that aren’t always secured. In addition, things like corridors can be a danger, especially when you’re returning home late at night.

As a renter, your efforts to increase the security of your apartment might be limited. However, there are still many things you can do to make your place safer.

Know What Burglars Are Looking For

Home Security Burglars

Before you can go about the business of securing your apartment against theft, it helps to know how burglars generally find their way into your home.

As former police officer Alexia A. Chianis tells Your Local Security, thieves will look for the easiest way into your home.

This means that they’ll look for an open window, a door that’s unlocked, and even a pet door that can help them gain access into your home. In fact, most thieves will enter your home through these entry points.

It makes sense if you think about it. Imagine for a moment that you were a burglar.

You’d want to find the easiest way into someone’s home that didn’t require you to make a lot of noise, and you’d also want to find the easiest way out of the home so that you could steal in a hurry and leave without being caught.

So, now that we’ve uncovered what burglars are looking for, let’s look at some easy ways to boost the security of your apartment.

Lock Your Doors

Lock your doors

This might sound silly to state, but locking your doors is one of the first and most successful things you can do to prevent theft.

Make sure you keep your doors locked at all times, even when you’re at home during the day.

This is important because the most common times when burglaries occur was found by a study to be between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., as Safewise reports. In fact, burglaries that happen at night only account for 17 percent of them!

If your front door only has a simple lock, speak to your landlord about installing something stronger, like a deadbolt lock.

Sometimes criminals will get into your apartment by kicking your front door, so if you can’t replace the door for a stronger one you should at least purchase a heavy-duty deadbolt strike plate from your local hardware store.

Just make sure that the screws are at least three inches long so that the plate can be fastened to your door frame. This will bolster the security of your door. Again, get your landlord’s approval for this.

How To Choose The Right Door Locks

Picking The right lock

If you’re locking a door, such as your wardrobe door to protect valuables you keep inside it, you want to be sure that criminals who want to steal from you won’t be able to use bolt cutters on the lock.

A good tip when choosing the right lock is to make sure the lock’s shackle – the piece that opens and closes – is thick.

A general rule is that the less this shackle is visible when locked, the more safety the lock can give you because it won’t be easily cut with a bolt cutter.

The thief won’t have enough wiggle room on the lock to use a bolt cutter on it, which could put him off from attempting to break the lock.

Secure Your Windows And Sliding Doors

Keep all your windows locked, and if you have sliding doors you would do well to get a steel bar that you can slide across them to make them more secure, as Geico advises.

You can find products that can be extended and put in place right in the sliding door’s track so that criminals can’t move it off the track in order to gain entry into your home.

Another thing you can do to protect your home from theft is to install blinds or curtains on your windows. This can prevent people from being able to look inside your apartment.

Bear in mind that many criminals often do their homework before breaking into a home or apartment. They will pay attention to the home they’re interested in breaking into to see what’s inside it. If they can see valuables through the window or sliding door, this will motivate them to steal from you.

Finally, consider installing a device that will sound when a window is broken. An example is the Doberman.

This device is kept on at all times and it will detect vibrations on your windows before sounding an alarm. You don’t have to worry about your landlord not liking it because it’s nothing permanent.

To use it, you simply attach it to windows with its adhesive backing. It’s compatible with most windows and you can buy it from Amazon.

Create A Community

Good Neighbors

There’s safety in numbers, as the saying goes.

This is especially true in apartment complexes and buildings where you live in close proximity to others.

To keep your home more secure, get to know your neighbors. You can even set up a social media group to inform each other of anything that looks suspicious in the building as a way to further protect yourselves from crime.

If you communicate with your neighbors, this can help you all prevent crime in your building because you’ll be looking out for each other.

Be Alert At All Times

One of the easiest targets for thieves is a distracted person.

Make sure that when you’re leaving and entering your apartment, you’re aware of your surroundings. Avoid being on your phone as this makes it really easy for a criminal to mug you or get into your apartment.

Even when you step out onto your apartment balcony, make sure that you’re alert and aware of your surroundings in case someone is hiding there, such as behind potted plants or screens. 

Be Wise About The Building Intercom

Apartment buildings usually make use of an intercom system to increase the security of their tenants.

If you’re worried about strangers getting in too easily, a good idea is to avoid listing your name next to your apartment number on this system. Just list yourself as “occupied,” so that criminals won’t know your personal info.

How thieves usually try to bypass intercom systems is that they’ll ring buzzers and make their way inside the apartment building when someone lets them in.

They might even pretend to know you, based on the name provided on the intercom system, so try to stay as anonymous as possible to protect yourself a bit more.

Install A Wireless Security System

Wireless Security Systems

One of the best things you can do to secure your apartment is to get a wireless security system.

A wireless one is clever because thieves won’t be able to cut wires to disable it.

Wireless alarm systems make use of sensors that can be stuck on doors and windows, and they can even be monitored via your smartphone, which makes them great for keeping you in the loop about your apartment’s security when you’re not at home.

In addition, an apartment security system can help you get lower rates on renter’s insurance, as Safewise reports, so that’s a nice bonus! 

If you don’t have a security system yet, pretend that you do.

Apply signs to your windows and doors that state you do have a wireless security system installed to deter criminals – or at least make them think twice before breaking into your apartment.

Install Cameras

Sometimes an apartment security system isn’t enough – you want cameras that can show you exactly what’s happening in your apartment when you’re not there.

You don’t have to connect a camera to your security system, which can seem like a hassle. In fact, there are many standalone products that work by sending a camera feed to your phone.

An example is Canary, a smart video device that works like your apartment bodyguard when you’re not at home. It detects any activity in your home and sends you notifications of it. It can even be put on when you’re asleep to monitor your home at night.

Get Motion Detector Lights

Motion Detection Light

You might think that motion detector lights aren’t that useful against burglars, thanks to some research that states a well-lit area can actually help thieves to see where they’re going.

However, if you live in a busy area where thieves know they will probably be seen if there are lights around, then this can certainly help to deter them. 

If you can’t run motion detector lights on electricity, consider solar-powered ones. They’re a nice addition to your apartment security system.

Secure The Balcony

The balcony is a weak spot when it comes to your apartment’s safety, and a sweet spot for thieves. Many criminals will use the balcony to enter your home.

It might provide them with an easy way to hide and scope out your apartment, and the balcony door might not be very secure. Here are some things you can do to secure your balcony.

  • Install motion sensor lights on your balcony.
  • Don’t make your balcony too cluttered, such as with plants or chairs, as this gives thieves a perfect place to hide.
  • If you have a sliding door that opens onto the balcony, make sure that it’s always locked.

Common Apartment Building Safety Hazards

Getting burgled isn’t the only safety hazard you have to deal with if you live in an apartment building. There are others of which you should be aware.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ones and how to protect yourself against them.

Smoke And Fires

Smart Smoke Alarms

Many cities and states make it a rule that a rental apartment should have a smoke detector – this is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure.

The landlord must guarantee that the smoke detector works well when it’s installed for your safety. 

However, once you move into the apartment, it’s up to you to regularly check that the smoke detector is working properly.

It’s also important to notice any warning signs that the smoke detector isn’t working the way it should, such as by paying attention to the device’s beeping noises.

To ensure that you’re meeting your responsibility when it comes to your apartment’s smoke detector, check the smoke detector rules in your area by asking your local fire department about them, as advised by Landlord Tenant Law Firms.

It’s crucial to stay on top of your smoke detectors so that you prevent fire-related dangers to yourself, your possessions, and your neighbors.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can be highly dangerous to you, which is why it’s important to have detectors for them in your apartment.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the second most common cause of death from poison that isn’t medicinal, as the National Conference Of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports.

When you’re burning any type of fuel or liquid for heating or cooking, you need to have a carbon monoxide detector installed, especially because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless so it can sneak into your home and make you sick – or even kill you.

In approximately half of the U.S. states, landlords are supposed to be responsible for both installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors.

However, as Bigger Pockets reports, how much responsibility they have will vary depending on state laws.

What about the other states?

If you live in a state in which your landlord is not legally required to provide carbon monoxide detectors, it’s essential that you get one so that you can protect yourself and your family against carbon monoxide poisoning.

A good carbon monoxide detector will usually cost you less than $30. Some can even be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

Fire Escape Dangers

Fire Escape NYCs

While they’re meant as a way to get out of a building that’s on fire, fire escapes have become more social. They’re the place where people like to sit and chat, which can be problematic.

This isn’t just because fire escapes should remain clear if people need to evacuate the building, but also because a person can fall or injure themselves.

Keep a watchful eye on fire escape drop ladders. These are meant to be retractable so that thieves can’t access them.

If your fire escape ladder isn’t retractable, this is something that should be brought to your landlord’s attention as it is a big security concern.

Parking Lot Dangers

Vandalism on parking lots

Since the parking lot of an apartment building or complex will provide shelter for many vehicles, it’s a breeding ground for vandalism.

Having car insurance is a must to protect yourself if damages occur.

When it comes to avoiding becoming the target of crime, never leave anything valuable in your car that can be appealing to criminals.

In addition, never be distracted when walking into or exiting a parking lot, such as by looking for your car keys in your handbag or speaking on the phone, as this easily makes you a target for criminals.

It’s also important to avoid going to your car – or exiting your car – if there’s someone in the parking lot who looks suspicious. In this case, rather wait for other tenants to exit the building so that you’re not alone.

Conclusion

While you might think apartment living is safer than living in a house, there are many issues that can cause your security rating to drop.

These include having a balcony, not having the right locks on doors, and even other hazards that occur in the building and parking lot.

Although you can’t control all the dangers around you, you can definitely reduce your chance of becoming a victim of them, whether that refers to crime or carbon monoxide poisoning. By following the advice outlined in this article, you’ll be able to protect yourself and what’s most important to you.

Related Questions

Should you buy renter’s insurance?

Your landlord’s insurance will cover the apartment building, but renter’s insurance is valuable to cover your personal property as well as protect against hazards such as fires.

The average amount you’ll pay monthly to protect your possessions with renter’s insurance is $20.

Does your landlord have to ensure there’s a peephole on the front door?

A peephole is a safety measure so you can see who’s outside your apartment.

In some jurisdictions landlords need to have safety measures such as peepholes in place. If there’s no peephole on your front door, talk to your landlord about it.

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