Apartment dwellers, beware: Protecting your residence is as necessary as securing a house.
When it comes to home security, apartment dwellers face many different challenges than their homeowner friends, largely because so much about their environment — from the kind of exterior lighting to what kind of door separates them from the outside world — is out of their control.
While some buildings may naturally be more secure than others, with 24-hour security staff and closed-circuit TV monitoring, some renters may not be so lucky.
Aside from complaining to the landlord, or moving, renters can bolster their sense of security by taking a few precautions that can go a long way toward making them less attractive targets of crime.
• Get new locks. For starters, experts advise, apartment dwellers should change all the locks when they first move into an apartment. The previous tenant may not have changed their locks, and there’s no telling who may access the apartment.
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• Consider a security system or camera. Many home alarm systems now use wireless technology, making them relatively quick and easy to install in apartments, without the need for drilling into walls or running cables.
In the absence of a full security system, experts say one or two tiny Internet Protocol digital cameras that can transmit images via the Web can amply cover most apartments.
“You can do what is known as an ad-hoc system, and that is nothing more than tying that IP camera into your home computer as long as you have an Internet connection,” says Frank Santamorena, a principal at Security Experts, Consulting & Design LLC in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Think of it like a glorified nanny cam.
Some of the cameras come with built-in motion detectors, so they record video only when something activates them.
A good IP camera runs about $150 or $200, Santamorena says.
• Know your landlord and neighbors. Consider doing a cursory background check on the landlord and neighbors, Santamorena says.
Even a simple Google.com search can turn up potential red flags on someone next door. Other online tools, such as CriminalSearches.com or a state sex-offender registry (the Washington State Sex Offender Information Center is at ml.waspc.org), may uncover a previous conviction.
• Secure personal information. Anyone who uses a Wi-Fi connection at home should make sure their computer network is locked. And use a crosshatch shredder to destroy all bills and other documents with personal information. “That’s vital in an apartment,” says Santamorena.