How to Keep Your First Apartment Safe and Secure
Posted March 13th, 2015 by Kelley
Moving into your first apartment is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times of your life. It’s likely the first time you are all on your own; far from parental supervision or the controlled chaos that is dorm life. You can’t wait to decorate, to have room to breathe, and to finally be in control. The last thing on your mind is security because the world seems like your oyster. Safety and security are probably the farthest things from your mind, but they shouldn’t be. Thinking about home security early on will make your experience with your first apartment the best possible and let you get back to decorating, quickly, without worry.
Security Begins Before The Move:
While you're apartment hunting, it's always good to know what kind of neighborhood you'd like to live in. Whether it's a tree-lined shady lane in suburbia, or a gritty, bohemian enclave in a big city, taking a look at the crime statistics of the area can give you a good idea of the feel of the place. Websites such as Areavibes.Com or Freep.com will give you recent violent and non-violent crime statistics for cities and towns in the United States. Once you know about the crime rates in a neighborhood, you can choose the best apartment for you. Be cautious and make sure to take this extra step to ensure that you and your first apartment will be safe!
You've Found Your First Apartment!
When you tour a new apartment, make sure to check for signs of break-in vulnerability. After signing a lease, your first job is to resolve any remaining security issues. Luckily, with a little bit of knowledge and ingenuity, you’ll greatly lessen the chances of being a victim of one of the more than two million burglaries a year in the United States alone.
Circle Your Property:
Take a walk around your entire building or house, keeping a keen eye on places where a burglar may see as a prime spot for entry. Make sure ladders are out of sight and locked up. Pay attention to that tree that dips just so and could allow a burglar access to the roof that features that back window. Think like a bag guy and secure anything you think could be used to get into your home. Just a few minutes walking around your property could save you thousands in stolen property.
Reinforce Your Doors:
Most break-ins occur through your front door. It’s less suspicious than climbing through or breaking a window and only takes a moment. Doors are their most vulnerable at the point where the lock enters the jamb. That little bit of metal that the lock goes in is called the strike plate. When properly kicked, the lock can actually splinter the wood the strike plate is screwed in to, rendering it useless. Most strike plates screw into the door jamb with ½” screws. Your first order of business should be to replace the whole piece, or at least refit it with 2” screws, which bore deeper into the wood, making it much harder to break through. Burglars are looking for a quick and easy entry point. Make it harder for them! If your front and back doors don’t have a deadbolt lock, speak to your landlord, immediately. Every home should have deadbolt locks on exterior doors.
Protect Your Windows:
This is especially important if you live on the first floor: always lock your windows when you’re not at home. Make sure that the locks aren’t coated in years of paint. If they are, talk to your landlord about replacing them. Even if you have to buy them yourself, it’s well worth it. Windows are the second most common entry points for burglaries, often because their left unlocked or open.
Strengthen Your Sliding Glass Doors:
If your apartment has a sliding glass door (on any floor) make sure it’s as secure as your regular doors. If the latch is loose, or doesn’t lock properly, replace it. Though it’s possible that a burglar may break glass, it is not common as that makes a lot of noise and can attract too much attention. Sometimes, a simple screwdriver is enough to pop a weak or poorly locked sliding glass door open. If it isn't your primary entrance, place a wooden dowel into the door’s track. This is enough to make it nearly impossible to slide open, and only costs a few dollars at a local hardware store.
Place Lamps and Televisions on Timer Switches:
One of the smartest things you can do to quickly secure your new apartment is to put a few street-facing lamps on timers. A few lights and the television turning on gives the illusion that the place is occupied even when its not. Stagger a few of them, with a radio or television thrown in. Setting them at random intervals when you’re not at home gives a would-be burglar the impression that you’re just going through your nightly routines. Seen from the street, you can fake a party if you set the stereo to a loud enough volume for a time.
Keep Valuables Out of Sight:
Keep your valuables and cash safe by avoiding common hiding spots. Burglars know all the common hiding places, and will check under your mattress and in your jewelry box straight away. If the necklace is that valuable, keep it in a safe or lockbox. If it’s really valuable, or has priceless sentimental value, consider getting a safety deposit box at your local bank. If you have to keep some cash on hand, consider putting it within the pages of a favorite book and kept on a shelf – unless that favorite book is a signed first-edition of a popular author, in which case you may want to keep that in a safe deposit box, too.
Add a Home Security System:
Lastly, your smartest and safest bet is also investing in a home security system. After you have physically secured your new home, having one is one more leg up against being the victim of a burglary. SimpliSafe is a wireless home security system that will make that endeavor easier than you think. Since it’s completely wireless, it won’t damage your landlord’s property, and with no contracts, you can simply cancel the service when you don’t need it. When you move, it can come with you. Simply pack it up and it’ll be ready for your next place. After all, your first apartment is rarely your last.
You’re first apartment will be one of many different places you’ll call home over the years. Prioritizing safety means that in the years to come, you can breath easily knowing that your home is untouched.August 2021