Living in close quarters with hundreds of other people, some of whom may be your friends, can give you a false sense of security. The reality is that condominiums are often targets for criminals for a number of reasons, including perceived affluence and the fact that businesses and offices often employ technologically sophisticated security systems, decreasing their viability as potential targets.
Many buildings have doormen or private security that act as a barrier between visitors and your private living space. But this added level of security often comes with higher monthly dues or an overall higher cost of living, a luxury not everyone can afford. And despite the lobby security in these buildings, potential criminals can still find their way in to your home.
But there are many things a building association can do to ensure your safety:
- A vast majority of high-occupancy residential buildings have security cameras in common areas and exterior areas. These systems can be expensive, but very effective.
- Exterior areas (parking lots/garages, recreational spaces) should always be well-lit and monitored, either by cameras or private security. Illuminated areas tend to see lower instance of crime.
- Common rooms, like gyms and laundry areas, should be locked at all times and inaccessible to visitors or the public. Tenants and maintenance should only be able to access these areas with keys or key cards.
- If an association employs CCTV cameras or a neighborhood watch group, signs should be posted around the building to deter any potential wrong-doers.
- A building's address should be clearly marked on the front or side of a building, and each unit should be clearly numbered. This allows emergency vehicles to respond to potential situations as quick as possible.
There are also precautions you can take within your own home:
- Get to know your neighbors. Having friends in your building can be a good defense against potential criminals. They can check on your unit when you are gone, report any suspicious activity and come to your aid if need be.
- If you are allowed to, consider an alarm system throughout your condo. Some associations may have rules against this if it requires complex wiring, but there are wireless options available. These systems can be expensive, but it can be worth it for the peace of mind.
- Setting your lights to timers can be a good idea. Lamps and other supplementary lights that are timed to turn on when you're away can give the appearance that you're home, possibly deterring potential burglars.
- Always lock your doors. This may seem like a simple detail, but forgetting to lock your doors can have devastating consequences. The more barriers between a criminal and your valuables, the better.
- Never, ever, ever buzz someone in the building if you weren't expecting them or you don't know who they are. There have been documented cases of criminals buzzing random apartments in the hope that someone will get fed up and (carelessly) let them into the building. Furthermore, if you don't recognize someone through the peephole at your door, don't let them in. Not every plumber who comes to your door is actually a plumber. If they cannot provide any credentials or you were not notified beforehand, it may not be in your best interests to invite them into your home.
As always, use common sense in any situation. If something seems unsafe, it is better to err on the side of caution. Condo living can be immensely enjoyable and rewarding. It only takes a few precautionary measures to ensure your home is safe and secure. Your condominium is an investment, and like any investment, it should be protected.