Staying safe regardless of where you live is important, and so is protecting your belongings. If living in a home that you own, you have the ability to install any type of security you want. Living in an apartment can present certain obstacles to creating a protected place.
Apartment security can be more than the locked doors to get into your building or the intercom system that requires you to buzz in guests. There are certain things you can do around your home — that don’t cost a lot — to protect you and your belongings while living in an apartment.
When your property is most at risk
“While today’s burglary statistics show an overall decrease in burglary rates, thousands of homes (roughly 325,000) are still being broken into every year — often in plain view, during the day,” according to alarms.org.
The most popular time for robberies is in the middle of the day, between noon and 4 p.m. This is because a stranger walking around during the day attracts less attention than someone prowling around at night. Robberies are more common in the summer months as well, when there are more daylight hours and warmer weather.
According to the FBI, burglaries of residential properties account for 67.2 percent of all burglary offenses. The average robber gets away with a little more than $2,000 worth of stuff when they successfully break into your home.
These statistics mean your home is most at risk when you’re the most distracted. Rushing out the door to get to the office, did you remember to lock it? Was the air still so pleasant when you headed out for the day that you forgot to close and lock your windows? Implementing a few easy security measures into your daily routine can help keep your belongings safe no matter where you are.
Affordable DIY home security options
It doesn’t take much to up the security of your apartment. While some of these options are a little more involved and need extra materials, most are possible with some reorganizing and smart thinking.
1. Have an apartment that’s less attractive to burglars
Most burglars are opportunistic individuals. If they see something in an apartment they want, they may try to get it. If you cut the temptation, you have a better chance of keeping your property safe.
The best way to do this is to close your blinds when you’re not home. Looking through your windows, easy-to-grab electronics like video game consoles, laptops and tablets can catch the eye of a would-be burglar. It’s quicker to close your blinds than to remember to hide these items each time you leave your home.
Making your home harder to get into also decreases the attractiveness of your apartment. Make sure all windows and doors have working locks and keep things locked up tight when you’re away or asleep. If your apartment has sliding glass doors, add a dowel or board to the track so it can’t open even if unlocked.
2. Upgrade your locks
Maintaining safety with the right apartment door security may mean having a conversation with your property manager. If your locks aren’t giving you that safe and secure feeling, you may want to try and upgrade things.
For more security, you can use a double-cylinder deadbolt or a mortise lock. This particular lock combines a sprung latch, deadbolt and lever handle. These are simple upgrades your property manager may pay for to make your apartment more attractive for the next renter.
If you want to try more technological options, see if your property manager has any interest in installing a digital or smart lock. Keyless entry has a lot of appeal for units with roommates since it makes it impossible to get locked out.
You may even end up with a lock that enables remote entry. Then, you can open your door with a cell phone. Other locks integrate with home devices like Alexa, who can lock the door for you if necessary.
3. Make valuables harder to find
During a break-in, burglars want to get in and out as fast as possible with as much stuff as possible. They’re looking for things of value that are easy to carry. Yet, they’re under a time crunch and can only spend so much time poking around.
Burglars will generally head for the bedrooms first since that’s where most people keep their valuables. Don’t follow the standard. Make your valuables harder to find as a deterrent should someone get into your home.
- Invest in a portable safe that’s too bulky or heavy to easily carry. Find one that doesn’t look like something a regular person would be carrying around.
- Use your freezer as an unlikely storage spot, placing items in a baggie in the way back so they’re hard to find
- Consider hiding spots in disguise. Buy a hollow book or false container that looks like it belongs in the bathroom or kitchen.
Today, you can find almost any common object to double as a secret storage spot for valuables. There are hollow hairbrushes, wall clocks that double as a safe, wall plugs with a hidden compartment and faux canned goods, drink cans and batteries. These all make it hard for someone to tell what’s real and what isn’t.
Burglars don’t have the time to check everything if they want to make a quick getaway, so your stuff has a better chance of staying safe.
4. Secure a few extra sets of eyes
There’s a reason neighborhoods create watch groups and then make sure a sign goes up to let anyone coming in know about it. 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.
Get to know your neighbors. Not only will they help you feel safer, but knowing who lives around you makes it easier to spot someone who doesn’t belong in your building. Exchange phone numbers for easy communication should you suspect anything fishy. “If one doesn’t already exist,” says Hannah Whalen from the Home Alarm Report, “start a Facebook page for your apartment building and share anything suspicions.”
Let your neighbors know when you’re planning on going away for a longer than normal period of time. Tell those you trust when you’re going out of town so they can watch out for your place and help keep it safe.
5. Install an apartment alarm system
For a little more surveillance than the watchful eyes of your neighbors, you can install an apartment alarm system. This may not be an automatic choice when thinking of inexpensive, DIY for apartments, but with technology today, it is.
The best security system for apartment living depends on your individual needs, what equipment you want to have and what you can afford. With limitations on drilling holes into walls and running wires through a rental property, your best bet for an alarm system is one that’s wireless.
Wireless alarm systems
Many wireless alarm systems come customized for apartment living and are often easy for anyone to install, which keeps the cost down. Installation can take minutes and you don’t have to be tech-savvy to get things set up.
With wireless systems, alarm panels are stuck onto the wall rather than hardwired. Your property manager will appreciate that there are no holes to drill and no wiring to run. The system is also easy to move should you find yourself relocating to a different apartment.
Each component of a wireless alarm connects to the main control panel using radio signals. When something gets triggered, the company monitoring your alarm is immediately notified. Using the system is pretty easy since many alarms tie into an app you can install on your phone, one that allows you to arm and disarm remotely.
If you do decide to buy a wireless alarm system, make sure to do some research on the quality of the system before you buy. Low-quality alarms or those that are running outdated software can get hacked easier so they stop working.
You also need to make sure you put sensors in the proper locations to ensure the radio signal can get from each component to the main hub. Radio frequencies can’t go through solid objects. You may need to consult with your alarm company to get everything set up right.
An option with most wireless security systems, motion sensors fall on the less expensive end of alarm accessories. Install them over a window or door to alert you when they open.
Not only will you know someone is trying to get in, but often, the noise scares whoever it is away. Because installation can require drilling holes, make sure to check with your property owner first.
Slightly different than sensors, detectors react to movement rather than physical contact with an object. You can pair motion detectors with security lights which will turn on when the detector gets triggered. Lights can scare off an intruder because they’ll think you’re home.
Protect your property without breaking the bank
Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you have to settle for feeling less safe than you would in a free-standing home. With simple, affordable, do-it-yourself strategies, you can keep yourself and your property safer no matter where you live.