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Home Security: Apartments & Condos

Home security isn't just for people who own houses. Just because you have a security guard at the entrance to your building, don't assume your apartment or condominium is entirely secure. Your safety is up to you. It's a good idea to make sure the apartment and surrounding grounds look secure before you sign a lease (since you're limited to the kind of improvements you can make yourself).

Here are some home security tips for those who live in apartments or condos:

Have the apartment's locks changed when you move in. (The maintenance crew can simply swap lock cylinders with a random vacant apartment, a project that is free and takes only a few minutes.) 

Depending on the neighborhood, you may also feel more secure if you have a deadbolt lock. Apartment renters, make sure to get permission first.

Use your peephole, and don't open the door for strangers. Demand identification from package delivery services, even if they're in uniform (uniforms can be stolen).

Even if you're home, don't leave the door to your apartment unlocked.

Make sure the building's public areas aren't threatening, i.e. lights out in the parking lots, laundry room, or hallways.

Get to know your neighbors, and watch for suspicious people on the premises.

Home security alarms are available for apartment and condo dwellers as well; look into portable door/window alarms or a wireless home security system (things that can move with you when it's time to find a new home).

Don't leave your windows open, and make sure they all have secure locking mechanisms.

Likewise, don't leave a sliding glass balcony door open, even on upper floors. (Balconies can make a handy ladder for burglars to climb to upper stories.) These kind of doors should have not only a lock but a Charley bar (or at least a wood board in the runners to keep the door from being forced).

Just use your last name, or if necessary last name and first initial, on your door or mailbox. This keeps strangers from knowing your gender or how many people live in your apartment.

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