Housing security can be a daunting challenge for many property and facility managers across the country. Crime can seem to spike sporadically and cause unprecedented damage to a community in many ways. Rampant crime can cause financial losses that hurt the precious resources of residential communities. Additionally, living in fear can cause apartment dwellers to avoid certain areas and significantly increase their stress levels.
So how can apartment buildings help prevent these crimes and bring improved safety levels to their residents? Below are some steps property and housing managers can take to improve security at vulnerable parts of their facility, such as parking areas, laundry rooms, and common areas. Additionally, here are some tips you can share with residents to make sure they have safety on their minds at all times.

Important Safety Tips to Share with Residents

Essential Security
It is essential for property managers to share safety tips with residents to help build the safest community possible. Here are some great ways apartment dwellers can take their safety into their own hands:

  1. Avoid Dark Public Areas: Avoid common areas if not well lighted during the hours of darkness.
  2. Leave Behind Valuables: When using common areas, leave purses, billfolds and other valuables in your locked apartment to avoid theft.
  3. Avoid Suspicious Individuals: Do not enter common areas when strange or suspicious people are loitering about. Tell your manager immediately.
  4. Re-Key: Always make sure that your apartment has been re-keyed prior to moving in.
  5. Make Friends: Know your neighbors. Learn to recognize and report suspicious circumstances to your local law enforcement agency.
  6. Top Quality Doors & Locks: All exterior hinged doors should be of solid core construction and fitted with deadbolt locks and peephole viewers. It is extremely important that door locks are kept in good working order. Notify the manager immediately if the locks malfunction.
  7. More Door & Window Locks: Use auxiliary locking devices on sliding glass doors and windows.
  8. No Strangers In: Never open your door to a stranger. If a stranger wants to use your phone for an emergency, offer to make the call for them while they remain outside the locked door.
  9. Elevator Safety: Be cautious in and around elevators. If you are at all suspicious of another passenger, wait for the next elevator. When you do get in, stand near the elevator controls.
  10. Break-Ins: If you suspect someone is trying to break into your apartment, call 9-1-1 immediately. Have your exact address and apartment number written on or near your phone.
  11. Use the locks: Lock all doors and windows. Never leave notes on your door.
  12. Use Device Timers: Connect lamps and radios to timers in different rooms of your apartment to give the impression that someone is at home.
  13. No Hidden Keys: Never leave a hidden key outside your apartment. Burglars are wise to this and know all the “secret hiding places” for hidden keys.
  14. Hide Valuables: Don’t leave expensive or tempting articles visible through your window.
  15. Don’t Risk It: If you arrive home and suspect a stranger is inside, don’t go in! Go to a neighbor’s (or the manager’s) apartment and call the Sheriff’s Department at 9-1-1.

Laundry Rooms

Laundry rooms
Dark and isolated laundry rooms can be major hot spots for thieves and assault on residents. Luckily, there are steps facility and property managers can take to increase safety for residents looking to utilize their apartment building’s laundry room. To achieve a secure laundry room, be sure to do the following:

  1. Lighting: Excellent lighting is key to boosting visibility and lowering a criminal’s chance of
    hiding in the shadows.
  2. Buddy System: Advise residents to use the buddy system when using the laundry room
  3. Visible Routes: Routes to the laundry room should clearly visible to other residents, especially during the
    hours of darkness. Shrubbery and bushes must be kept trimmed to ensure that clear visibility is maintained.
  4. Hours of Operation: Hours of use for laundry rooms can help in avoiding abuse of the facility (transient use
    and theft of clothing.)
  5. Clear Rules: Rules should be established and adhered to regarding proper use of the facility.
  6. Cleanliness: The laundry room must be kept clean and well maintained.
  7. High quality doors & locks: The door of the laundry room should be of solid construction and capable of being
    locked from the inside and must include authorized panic hardware. Any glass within 40
    inches of the locking mechanism should be covered with an expandable metal type
    mesh or grill work to prevent breaking the glass and unlocking the door.
  8. Clear Views: A large convex mirror can be placed in such a manner as to allow a person about to
    enter the laundry room an unobstructed view of the interior to see in some is lurking

Parking Areas

Parking areas
Unfortunately, not every apartment resident can have their own private garage to park their cars in. They must often share garages with the rest of their apartment building’s residents, and even have to walk quite a distance to get from the parking lot to their home. These situations leave residents vulnerable to crimes such as automobile theft, burglary and even assault. Thankfully, there are many things property and facility managers can do to boost safety in these areas. Here are some steps to take to improve parking safety:

  1. Well Lit: Vehicle parking areas must be well lighted at night and located so as to provide
    maximum visibility from the apartment units.
  2. Change Numbers: Do not number individual parking spaces with the same number as the apartments.
    Burglars note when tenants leave a parking space and then target the apartment
    numbered on the space.
  3. Protect Valuables: Never leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicles.
  4. Preventative Measures: Use car alarms, auxiliary locking devices, and fuel/ignition cut-off switches to prevent
    auto thefts and auto burglaries.
  5. Embrace light: If your building uses multi-level parking garages, advise residents to avoid dark, isolated areas and report any persons who appear to have no purpose or reason for being in the parking area to the manager immediately.
  6. Use locks: Always lock your vehicle no matter where you park and take your keys with you.

Source: SD Sherriff

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