All you need to do is review daily statistics on burglaries in the United States and you’ll see that residences are prime targets. And according to the National Crime Prevention Council, apartments and condos are at the top of the list, with an 85% higher chance of being burglarized than other types of residences.
It is because of these frightening statistics that many apartment and condominium complexes advertise various types of security technology as an amenity, such as security gates, card access systems, security lighting, and more. But do your homework! Don’t automatically assume that the security amenities promoted by these residential complexes will keep you safe.
As a 20-year veteran in the security industry, take it from me when I tell you that burglary prevention doesn’t come in the form of one or two security devices. The best defense against becoming a victim of burglary or home invasion is having multiple layers of security.
The Security Onion: The More Layers The Better.
Layer 1 - Security Gates
Many apartment and condo complexes nowadays advertise security through the words "Gated Community." With wrought-iron fences and automatic gates that require a code, remote control, or access card to open, many prospective residents view gated communities as a form of protection against potential intruders.
But security gates are just one layer of protection. For a security gate to be effective, it should meet the following criteria:
- It acts as a barrier to keep unauthorized vehicles and pedestrians from entering the property.
- It is a sliding gate and not a swinging gate. Swinging gates are expensive to maintain and are easily damaged. Because of this, there is a higher chance that the gate will be inoperative quite often, meaning it will have to be left open, allowing anyone to come in and out.
- Requires a remote control, card key, or similar device owned only by residents to open the gate and/or is monitored by a 24-hour security guard who keeps logs of names of visitors. Although security codes are convenient, too many residents give the code to their friends and family, one of which could use the code for ulterior motives.
Layer 2 - Card Access Reader Systems for Doors, Etc.
When it comes to doors and gates to common areas, electronic card access technology is considered to be the best form of access by many housing complexes. Card access systems do offer various benefits if property managers take advantage of the software programming capabilities.
To ensure the card access systems at your complex are used effectively, ensure the following:
- The card access system software is programmed to track the dates and times that various locations are accessed and by which residents.
- The access cards work in conjunction with a video surveillance system that ensures all video data can be reviewed at a later date should a crime occur on the premises.
Similar to a hotel, numerous residential complexes utilize card access systems for each individual apartment. The most common reason for replacing standard apartment door locks with card key systems is that it’s easier to manage and more cost effective. If a resident loses his or her access card or moves out, the access card can be deleted and replaced in the computer system in a matter of seconds. This eliminates the need for property managers to have locks replaced or new metal keys made.
Layer 3 - Lighting
Proper lighting can provide an extra layer of security in various ways. Not only can it act as a deterrent by helping residents to see potential intruders, it also helps to eliminate dark, shadowy areas in which intruders like to hide.
In order for lighting to be an effective layer of security at night, it should meet the following criteria:
- Lighting should enable building numbers to be easily read at night.
- Lighting should light up all walkways, especially those from your car to your residence, so that they are easily navigated and viewable from a minimum of 100 feet away.
- Parking lots and other common areas, such as parks, pools, stairwells, and laundry facilities, should be brightly lit so that you can easily see anyone else that might be in the area.
- Some perimeter lighting for buildings and residential units should be equipped not only with "dusk-to-dawn sensors", but also motion sensors that can startle unwanted visitors.
- Somewhat of a new technology-LED lighting offers several benefits over standard flood lights in that it consumes up to 50 % less power vs. a standard flood light. In addition the bulbs last up to 3x as long which means less labor changing bulbs.
If your apartment or condo does not offer lighting with motion sensors, consider replacing the lights around the entry doors to your unit yourself. The extra security they provide will be worth every penny spent.
Layer 4 – Alarm Systems
Some apartments and condos come with pre-installed alarm systems. Although an alarm system won’t stop an intruder from entering your dwelling, in most cases, the blaring siren is usually enough to rattle the nerves of even the most determined thief.
For an alarm system to be an effective layer of security, it should meet the following criteria:
- The alarm is obscenely loud when sounded.
- The alarm company signage is prominently displayed. This serves as an added deterrent for potential intruders.
- It is linked directly to a monitoring station that is ready to respond by notifying the police or on-site security guards.
- Alarm systems that include glass break sensors, motion detectors, a back-up cellular dialer, a wireless panic button, and external strobe lights provide optimum layers of security.
Layer 5 - Doors, Windows & Locks
There have been several technological advances in security when it comes to doors, windows and locks. Although some newer apartment and condo complexes have taken advantage of this technology, many older complexes do not.
For the doors, windows and locks of your residence to act as a sufficient layer of security, it’s important to take the time to ensure the following:
- Doors should be constructed of solid wood or metal.
- Doors should have high quality dead bolts installed.
- All exit door hinges should be reinforced with 3-inch steel screws.
- Peepholes should have a wide-angle lens and be within viewing level.
- All accessible windows should be treated with a glass protection film.
- Sliding doors and windows should be equipped with anti-lift and anti-slide features. If they don’t, then make sure to insert a solid, wooden closet dowel or metal rod in the tracks of at-risk doors and windows that slide horizontally, such as patio doors.
Ensuring you have extra layers of security on doors and windows is critical!
Another option to consider is a well-constructed security door brace installed at the base of the interior side of the door. The brace must be able to withstand a minimum of 1800 lbs. of pressure. Installing glass protection films to all ground floor windows is another great way to slow down an intruder.. Both devices are quite affordable and highly effective. Although unlikely, a burglar may eventually produce enough force to smash through the door or windows, but it will require numerous attention-getting strikes, etc., significantly increasing his risk of being seen or caught. In most cases, the would-be intruder will flee the premises.
As burglaries continue to increase, so will the advertisements of security amenities by apartment and condominium complexes. It’s up to you to make sure the security technology promoted truly provides security against burglary. Remember: the best defense against becoming a victim of burglary or home invasion is having multiple layers of security.
Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.
Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:
The American Society for Industrial Security.
The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths.