Unfortunately, as a renter, you face your fair share of threats from the outside world. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, theft is the top property crime across America. You likely know someone who has experienced an apartment break-in or burglary.
Whether you live in a condo or a big apartment complex, you need to know the factors that put you at risk. To help you out, here's a list of the top four factors that increase your likelihood of experiencing a break-in. Negate these issues and you stand a better chance of deterring burglaries and the attention of prying eyes.
Living in a unit or home with a first-floor entrance might have some convenient benefits, but it also comes with risks. Ground-floor apartments are vulnerable to break-ins via both windows and doors. You'll likely need to take extra precautions for the sake of your privacy and security.
According to Andrew Rose from Compass, “The first floor is the easiest access point — and basement-level apartments may be out of the eye line of passersby, giving thieves an added layer of protection."
That's not to say that you should move out of your first-floor unit or say no to the perfect apartment just because it's on the ground. It's just an important risk to note. You'll likely need to invest in better security devices, locks and drapes to deter burglars from noticing your place.
As much as we hate to think about strangers watching us while we're at home, most intruders “shop" for the perfect place to burglarize. It's very rare that a rental is chosen at random — thieves and criminals want to pick a home that's a safe target with big rewards to reap.
With that in mind, you should keep your place covered as much as possible with blinds, curtains, etc. Whenever you're on vacation or at work, ensure that prying eyes can't get a good look inside your rental. This is especially true at night when your lights are on inside. If someone is watching from your yard or street, they can see exactly what you're doing and where you keep your valuables.
Speaking of valuables, pay attention to what's visible. Try not to be flashy with items that are easy to grab such as jewelry, electronics, cool gadgets, loose cash or collectibles. If a burglar can spot those from outside, it will make your home a much more tempting target.
Put as many valuables as possible in a locked safe. Not only will this protect them in the event of an apartment break-in, but it will also keep them out of sight and out of mind.
Did you know that only about 46 percent of Americans lock their doors and windows when they're gone? That's a big no-no in our book.
Your front door is likely the way that most burglars will enter. It pays to invest in excellent front door security rather than relying on the standard lock and key that come with the rental.
Sure, a regular lock might serve as a deterrent to burglars, but it won't keep them out. It might even just encourage them to use a window or another form of entry. The same goes for deadbolts — they aren't 100 percent effective.
“Seasoned burglars know how to get past a deadbolt within minutes… sometimes less. A video security system can do a lot to deter criminals, but it has to be set up properly with camera placement, sensors and monitoring systems. An amateur setting up the equipment can easily result in blind spots, which essentially render the system useless." – Derek Prall, Video Doorbell Expert at SafeHome.org.
It's a good idea to upgrade to an alarm system that triggers a noise or sends a notification to your phone the moment someone unknown tries to enter. You may even want to go as far as purchasing a video doorbell and lock system that feeds live video to your phone.
Worried about the price? Fortunately, home security systems and video doorbells have become increasingly affordable.
The monthly cost for smart home connectivity can be as low as $10. Of course, you still have to purchase the equipment separately, but once you have it installed, you're paying around the same price you'd pay for supersizing a McDonald's meal. Not bad at all!"
The cost of installing a more effective entry security system pales in comparison to what it would cost to recuperate the damages (and mental stability) after a bad break-in. Just be sure to check with your property manager before installing.
Lastly, be mindful of your posts on social media. Burglars love victims that regularly update followers about their whereabouts and habits online. If you're posting trip details the moment you leave for vacation, you're putting yourself in a vulnerable position, so remember:
If possible, wait to talk about your exciting trips until after you've already returned home. Lots of posts about your travels can be the same as leaving your front door wide open, inviting burglars to take a step inside.
Vacations aren't the only topic you should avoid oversharing on social media. Keep daily habits and schedules hush-hush. You don't want people to know exactly what hours you're out of the house most days or when you like to take your morning jog.
Even if you're super careful about posting private information, some social media apps reveal your location by accident. Make sure that you turn off automatic location sharing and posting when you visit restaurants, friend's houses, bars, etc. Geo-tagging is not your friend when it comes to preventing break-ins.
The bottom line: Be very conscious about what you're putting on the internet. Although it might seem like a harmless tidbit of info to share with friends and family, it could put your home in a dangerous position.
Hopefully, this short guide has given you some insight as to what jacks up your risk of being the victim of an apartment break-in. Although none of us can do everything to avoid being the victim of a selfish crime, we can all do little things to minimize our exposure to prying eyes and intelligent criminals.