Sure, you want to feel safe in the distance from your car to your apartment home and once you’re inside or away, you don’t want to have to worry about break-ins. There are many things you can do as an apartment dweller, from affordable home security systems to light timers to commonsense (but sometimes forgotten) safety practices.
Homeowners have the option of hard-wiring traditional alarm systems, which you can’t do when you’re renting an apartment. Technology to the rescue! There are wireless home security cameras that you can install without the bother of invasive installation and monthly fees from a security company. (Check with your apartment management to make sure it’s OK before you install anything.)
There are options for security systems:
- Motion sensors: The great thing about motion sensors is that they are less expensive than wireless security cameras and easy to install over windows or doors. They will emit a loud noise if someone touches your window or door.
- Motion detectors: These devices make a sound and/or turn on a light when movement is detected below them. That’s often enough to scare away anyone wanting to break in.
- Outdoor security cameras: Sometimes, just having a fake but realistic-looking camera above your door is enough to make a burglar think twice. But you can find basic security cameras and Wi-Fi-enabled hidden cameras for home that you can install, with permission from your landlord, of course.
If you can’t install anything outside your apartment, consider surveillance cameras that you can set on shelves or furniture. They can stream to your smart phone so you can be alerted to something unexpected happening at home. (And you can watch your cat sleep or your dog bark at the air, too.) Maybe you can’t see a security event in time to prevent it, but having video of it could help catch the perp.
Prevention is important
Gadgets are cool, but a few preventative measures can go a long way toward keeping you safer in your apartment:
- Play it safe: Don’t make it easy for a burglar to grab and dash along with your jewelry, cash, credit cards and electronics. Store them somewhere other than the master bedroom, which is the first place thieves look. Buy a safe that’s heavy enough it can’t be carted off easily. Think of unusual hiding places such as fake containers.
- Always home: The idea that someone is breaking into your house while you sleep and quietly slipping valuables into a silk bag is mostly fiction. Most break-ins occur from late morning to early afternoon, when residents presumably are at work or in school. Anything you can do to make someone think someone’s inside, such as timed lights, leaving a TV on, can deter a would-be burglar.
- Good neighbor policy: OK, maybe you don’t like your neighbor’s taste in music, but the more your neighbors know who you are (and like you), the more likely they will keep a lookout for your apartment when you’re away (and vice-versa, hopefully). If you can build up trust with at least one neighbor so you can exchange contact information in case something goes wrong, all the better!
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Back in the olden days, when people subscribed to a thing called “newspaper,” the biggest rule was to make sure your subscription was suspended when you went on vacation, so papers didn’t pile up and invite someone to break in. Likewise, that Amazon package you forgot was coming and is sitting on your doorstep is not only an invitation for someone to swipe it, but to have a good idea that there’s nobody home to take it safely in side. Keep a written schedule of expected deliveries as well as appointments with the cable guy, electric/cable/internet company. If you can’t be there, get someone to fill in for you (remember the friendly neighbor?). And be sure to check the ID of the maintenance person or repair person before you let them in.
Don’t be shy about letting your property management staff or landlords know about security or maintenance issues that could affect your safety, from lock tampering to burned-out security lights in the parking lot.
Some landlords require tenants to have renter’s insurance, but if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to get it. If something does happen, renter’s insurance will often cover the costs, in addition to things such as water damage, fire damage and vandalism. Sometimes, it even covers theft from your car parked on the property. Speaking of your car, remember to never leave valuables in it, particularly where people can see them. Lock all the doors, even if you’re just dashing inside for something you’ve forgotten and never, ever, leave your car running and unattended.
Here are some other safety tips for apartment living:
- Lock all your windows and doors
- Put a broomstick in the gutter of your patio door and sliding windows
- Park in lighted areas
- Be alert when you’re walking to and from your apartment
- As if anyone needs to be reminded to always carry a cellphone, but don’t let it distract you; that text can wait until you’re inside your apartment or car.