Be a Good Neighbor
Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your apartment and the three directly across from you. Invite them into your apartment, communicate often, and establish trust. Good neighbors will watch out for your apartment and vehicle when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to management, to the police, or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing authorized vendors to enter your apartment.
Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the inside of your apartment periodically to see that all is well. Allowing a neighbor or management to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge. Requiring a service vendor to contact your neighbor to gain access will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called ‘territoriality.’ This means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood. This concept works great in apartment communities. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.
The biggest difficulty getting to this level of oversight is taking the first step. You can take it by calling your local crime prevention unit at the police department. Most police departments in large cities have neighborhood watch coordinators to help you set this up. You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You’ll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there.
- Get to know your adjacent apartment neighbors
- Invite them into your home and establish trust
- Agree to watch out for each other
- Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
- Return the favor and communicate often
Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of occupancy inside a residence at night. Seeing a dark apartment night-after-night sends a message to burglars that you are away. Light-timers are inexpensive and can be found almost everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you’re away. In this way you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted apartment becomes dark.
Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. The pattern of them clicking on and off simulates actual occupancy. It is also comforting not to have to enter a dark residence. Timers can also be used to turn on the television or radio to simulate occupancy during the daytime. After dark, a bright television can be seen flickering through the curtains and gives the feeling that someone is home. Similarly, the radio or television can be heard through the door if turned on loud enough.
Exterior lighting is also very important. It becomes critical if you must park in a common area parking lot or underground garage and need to walk to your front door. The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path. If you can see a potential threat in advance then you at least have the choice and chance to avoid it. Exterior lighting needs to bright enough for you to see 100 feet and it helps if you can identify colors. Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don’t want to be seen or identified. Apartment management needs to have a system in place to periodically inspect and replace lighting outages.
Another important area to be well-lighted is the perimeter of your apartment building especially at the entryway. Common area lighting on apartment properties should also be on a timer or photo-cell to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn. Exterior lighting at the rear of an apartment are usually do not turn on automatically. They require you to turn on the light inside switch. The resident can choose to turn these lights on or off. A better idea is to install security lights that activate by infra-red motion sensor. They are relatively inexpensive ($25) and can easily replace an exterior porch light or side door light on townhouse style apartments with rear doors. The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute. These infra-red security lights are suggested for apartments with patios and back doors.
- Use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy
- Use timers to activate the radio or television while away
- Exterior lighting should allow 100 foot visibility
- Use good lighting along the pathway and at your door
- Use light timers or photo-cells to turn on/off lights automatically
- Use infra-red motion sensor lights for the back door of townhouse apartments
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