Are Gated Apartments Safer?

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

In the local news yesterday, the lead story was about a man who was accosted by a robber as he exited his car in his apartment parking lot around midnight.   His wife and baby were still in the car when this happened:  the robber demanded cash and when the man reached for his wallet, the criminal shot him in the chest.   The only witness did not get a good look at the shooter.  The reporter mentioned this happened in a gated apartment community.

The story stuck with me as we live in a gated apartment as well.

Gated apartments are perceived to be safer, but do they really offer protection from crime?  There are several factors to consider with this question.

Apartment location

If the complex is located in a crime ridden neighborhood, the gates and walls keep most of everyday street traffic out.  So the complex may be a bit safer than the rest of the neighborhood, but as soon as you step outside you may be a target.

Tip:  Check the crime statistics in the area when choosing an apartment.  Many police departments post these statistics online.  Some real estate sites also post general information about typical crimes that are committed within zip codes.

Gates and entrances

Security gates do keep neighborhood foot traffic at a minimum, as passersby will usually avoid taking routes through a gated community.  So this eliminates a few crimes of opportunity.

On the other hand, at many apartment communities, the gates are often left open for some reason or another.  Sometime mechanical failures cause gates to stay open all the time.

It is also easy to follow residents into the driveway.

Many residents give out the pass codes, to relatives, pizza delivery or cable installer.

Gates can also work against you, when the power goes out and there is no other way in, as this has happened to me.  Also, they may delay emergency personnel such as ambulance, police and fire.  Most emergency workers have codes that let them through gated communities, but that is something you should check with your leasing office.

Tip:  Don’t give out your codes to just anyone – if it is a delivery or install, meet them at the gate or have them meet you at the front office so you can let them in.  Make a note of whether you are being followed as you enter the gates.  Know all the entrances and exits in your community.

Your neighbors

If you live in a large complex, you will have a huge variety of neighbors, from young singles, couples, families, in varying ages.  At a previous residence, there was a shooting on the other side of the complex, in the one bedroom side, as one of the tenants was involved in drug deal that went bad.  The tenant got shot and the assailant escaped.  Our building manager assured everyone in a town hall meeting that they have evicted the guy.  Still, you never know what type of neighbors will move in, and with whom they associate.

In many cases, burglaries are committed by someone in the neighborhood, or someone associated with one of the neighbors since they see the comings and goings in the area.

Tip:  Get to know the neighbors in your immediate vicinity.  Attend resident functions and make some acquaintances.  This is also a good way to find out what’s going on around the other buildings.

So, are gated apartments safer?

Statistically, they appear to be safer.  However, it does not mean that crime does not happen in gated apartments.  A casual burglar wants an easy entrance and exit when choosing their targets.   A gate may deter the less experienced thief, but a determined one will not let that stop them.  Most fences are easy enough to climb and jump over.

Assaults among people who know each other still happen, as well as burglaries and other crimes of opportunity.

People get a false sense of security when they live in a security apartment.  They may leave doors unlocked or fail to pay attention to their surroundings.  You are most at risk when you are in your “home turf” because you let your guard down as you get closer to your home.  Pay attention to your surroundings no matter where you are or how comfortable you may feel.

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  1. Bernie: Re: gates stopping fire or emergency vehicles – I have a friend that is a volunteer fireman, and he has stated on numerous occasions, that there’s never been a gate built that will withstand a multi-ton fire truck! If there’s a fire, particularly in an apartment complex, they will do whatever is needed to get there, gate or no gate. That goes for illegally parked vehicles as well ….

  2. I’ve always considered ANY gated community, building, as a corral, and nothing else. It’s an illusion of security and NOTHING else.

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