This post is by Bernie Carr,
A while back, our management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety. I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work. A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance.
The meeting was to discuss a shooting that occurred in the complex. Management wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.” There were no fatalities: the victim was shot in the leg and the shooter was arrested. The resident involved has since been evicted. I did not feel very reassured to hear that one of the former neighbors was doing a drug deal. The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft. Due to recent criminal activity in the area, they also warned residents about personal safety.
Signs your apartment is no longer safe
While we carefully picked the apartment before we signed the lease in, crime in any area is inevitable. The criminal element may not even live in the neighborhood, but can target any neighborhood that gets their attention. Here are signs your apartment is no longer safe.
Lots of foot traffic
If you see a lot of people walking across the grounds to get from the street to another area, who don’t even live there, that means a lot of non-residents are coming in.
Multiple flyers left on your door
If you live in a secure building, there shouldn’t be a lot of vendors coming in and leaving flyers. I don’t have anything against someone just doing their job, but if there are a lot of flyers being left, that means a lot of strangers are getting in who don’t live there.
Electric gates are always open
If you see the security gate is always open because it is broken or can be propped open, then the gate is only a facade. Anyone can get in if security is lax.
Management issues warnings about safety
This is pretty obvious, but a lot of tenants don’t bother to attend meeting like the one I went to, or pay attention to emails or flyers from management. I have talked to a lot of leasing office personnel and they don’t sound the alarm until a lot things are happening. Naturally, they don’t want to alarm the residents but if there are multiple occurrences of theft and other criminal activity, they do issue warnings.
Tenant complaints/police activity
This seems like another obvious one, but I’ve talked to neighbors who were completely mystified when I told them about what happened. They never paid attention and were completely unaware anything was going on. If your neighbors are complaining they got robbed or their unit got broken into, or if you are seeing frequent police activity in the area, there may be safety issues.
What to do if your apartment is no longer safe
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Find out about what’s going on around you.
- Trust your gut. If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.
- As the economy gets worse, crime increases. People are more desperate these days, and thieves try to target people that they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women and children.
- Find out what you can do to reinforce your apartment doors and windows. You should also consider home security gadgets. Check your lease before making any changes.
- To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals: flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with cash or credit cards even if it isn’t. I am guilty of this myself, my purse was filled with junk that I felt I needed to carry around-wallet, makeup, coupons, notes to myself etc. It does not matter if you really have lots of cash; you may just have coupons in there, but if the thief PERCEIVES that you have goodies, then that is enough to get their attention. When examining each item such as checkbooks, notes, etc. ask yourself, “Why am I carrying this around, can I leave it behind?” I have since cleaned out my purse to the minimum items needed.
- When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk. The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.
- Consider a protection device such as mace or pepper spray, Taser, stun gun or a concealed gun if you know how to use them.
- When walking to your car, have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys. Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life. If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.
- Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.
- Keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.
- Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.
- Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
- Look around the area before you open your door or garage, as thieves have been known to follow people in as they get home.
- Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.
- Get a dog that can protect you.
- Move. It may be a more extreme choice but your safety is more important.
This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.
Update: We moved out of the area after a few months once our lease was up.
© Apartment Prepper 2019