by Robert Fox
Did you know that apartments have an 85% higher risk of being burglarized than a rental property or a single-family homeowner? Well, that's what the National Crime Prevention Council reports.
Even though every landlord should provide the maximum apartment security to their tenants, you shouldn't necessarily wait for someone like a landlord to take care of these matters for you, as you could be waiting a while.
Unfortunately, as a renter, your options for improving security are limited. Still, you might be surprised at the number of easy security measures you can implement, even in a large apartment building or complex.
We've put together a guide to help you understand what apartment security issues you might be facing with when renting an apartment, as well as what you can do after you move in to give yourself top-notch apartment security.
Your apartment might come with or without a security system. If there's no system installed, talk to your landlord to look for one that doesn't require an invasive installation that requires tearing up the walls and lots of wiring.
There are plenty of security systems to choose from, all providing different options. You can even find security systems that can be controlled via your smartphone or computer.
Nowadays, security systems are often wireless and portable. So, even if your landlord doesn't want to provide you with a system, you can find one with motion detectors that's inexpensive and non-invasive and ask for permission to install it,
Many security systems come customized for apartment living and are incredibly easy to install, which keeps the cost down. Installation can take less than 30 minutes and you don't have to be tech-savvy to get things set up.
With such system installed in your place, you'll have no worries the next time you leave your home for a few hours or days.
It is also worth mentioning that having a security system can get you lower rates on your renters insurance.
Read our guide to: The Best Home Alarm Systems
If your apartment comes with an outdoor light, you might start turning it on every night. Proper lighting can help deter potential intruders.
There are even some apartment buildings which have well-lit walkways, courtyards, and parking areas.
You can choose to have the lights on all the time, or, if you're trying to conserve energy, for them to come on with motion activation.
If some light is burnt out, or you think an additional lighting could help increase the security of your apartment, make sure to inform your landlord immediately.
Also, if you're out of town for few days or weeks, a good idea would be to install timers to power your TV, or some light to give the impression that someone is home.
You can also invest some money into smart outlets or smart light bulbs which allow you control your lights remotely via your phone.
Read our guide to: The Best Outdoor Solar Powered Lights
Most burglaries happen because of unlocked doors and windows. So, make sure you lock every window and door before going up to the rooftop deck or down to get the mail.
If your locks aren't giving you that safe and secure feeling, you may want to try and upgrade things. For additional security, you can use a double-cylinder deadbolt or a mortise lock.
If you want to try more technological options, check if your landlord is interested in installing a digital or smart lock. Keyless locks are great for those who are sharing their apartment with roommates since they make it impossible to get locked out.
What's more, your sliding patio doors or windows should have a security bar for extra protection. You can even talk to your landlord to ensure exterior doors to laundry rooms and other common areas are kept secure.
During a burglary, burglars want to get in and out as fast as possible with as much of your stuff as possible. They're usually looking for valuable items that are easy to grab and carry.
To protect valuable items like jewelry and documents like a Social Security card you better get a safety deposit box at your local bank.
You can also purchase a home safe and ask your landlord if it's okay to secure it to the floor so burglars can't make off with it in its entirety. You can store money, phones, laptops, valuable papers, and jewels there. You'll have them on hand, but not vulnerable to theft or damage.
Having a peephole or door viewer means you can see who's at the other side of the door before opening it. In case your door doesn't have one, make sure you install it as soon as possible. A peephole can help you and your family avoid any threatening situations.
Nowadays, there are even door viewers which include not just a peephole, but a door camera, doorbell, indoor viewer, and intercom. This is an even better option, depending on your needs.
They allow you to see who's at the front of your door on your smartphone, so you don't even have to stand up and approach the door to know who wants to visit your home.
Despite them being high-tech devices, most of these types of cameras are incredibly easy to use or operate. Apart from that, you can buy most of the brands at the market since they are sold at an affordable cost.
We all like to share pictures from our vacations on social media. But, you don't think that in that way you are actually telling everyone, including potential intruders, that your home is empty.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is posting anything about your vacation while you are still on it.
Criminals can monitor your social media profiles to see when you're away from home, so that they can burgle your apartment.
In 2001 a UK study found that almost 80% of burglars use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to choose where they are going to break in next.
Your family members and your employer should be the only people who need to know specifics about your travel plans and vacations.
If you need to share information and pictures with your family and friends when you're away from home you should use text or email, not social media.
Getting to know your neighbors can be helpful when it comes to your apartment security. In that way, your neighbors can report any suspicious activity when you're not around.
The more eyes looking, the greater the chance someone will see something unusual going on and report it. In an apartment, the more people you know, the more eyes you have watching your back.
By getting to know your neighbors, you can agree with each other to watch over each other's property. You can also work together on improving overall security throughout the complex.
Hopefully your apartment will already be equipped with a deadbolt, but if not, be sure to install one when you move in.
Installing a mechanical or electronic and chain lock provide extra safety. Intruders have harder times to pick a deadbolt than a regular doorknob lock, and a chain lock allows you to open the door a bit to ask for identification before letting the person inside.
Today, there are even pick resistant and bump proof locks on the market, so you have a lot of options to choose from.
You may also want to ask your landlord to change the regular locks on your door. You never know how many duplicate keys might be out there, and you want to be sure you're the only one who has access to your apartment.
Be careful not to open the doors to your apartment to burglars pretending to be utility workers, contractors, or other professional repairmen. You may think this could not happen to you, but there are many such cases reported nationwide.
In such cases, it's best to ask for an identification and call the company for authorization. Once the company confirms their identification, you can then consider letting them in.
According to the Baltimore County Police Department, you should be cautious of suspicious activities around your apartment building, including:
You'll be surprised to hear that a lot of home intrusions have occurred due to unlocked windows. Burglar proofing your windows is important for each apartment, not just for those on the first floor.
Burglars see windows just like doors - a potential entry point. That's why locking your windows is a smart move that can deter burglars.
Locks should be placed on any first floor windows, as well as windows that are accessible from the outside, such as those overlooking a balcony or stairway.
But, check to see if your window locks work properly so that no one can manipulate them from the outside.
These tips can help you protect your apartment from possible intrusions and burglaries.
Feel free to speak to your landlord or the management company of your apartment complex if you need any additional advice regarding your apartment security.
If you have more security tips we didn't cover in this guide please feel free to share them with us in the comments section.
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.