Crime-prevention advice for apartment residents

I see a lot of theft, fraud and burglary reports. Burglary reports list how the bad guys get in. Here are the three most frequent ways:

1) Unlocked or open window.
2) Unlocked door.
3) Pried or forced-entry through a door or window.

Apartment residents have a disadvantage. Maintenance has a key. The good news: Almost never are maintenance crews responsible for thefts and burglaries. The same can’t be said for outside contractors, but that depends on the circumstances. Still, you can do things to prevent thefts.

The other disadvantage for apartment residents is this: Doorframes are generally old and somewhat weak. They don’t build the same support into apartment doorjambs as they do on homes. You can’t do the upgrade yourself,  and chances are the apartment management won’t do it, either.

Your best bet is to check the deadbolt and make sure it’s at least one and a half inches in length. The strike plate on the jamb should be screwed in there with at least inch and a half screws. If the wood around the plate is brittle, then it’s old and there’s nothing wrong with asking the staff to replace that piece with a new piece of wood.

If you don’t have renter’s insurance, get it.

Take a rainy Saturday or Sunday and shore up some little things so that your loss, in the case of a burglary, would be minimal:

1) Take digital photos of your valuables, including all electronics, laptops, GPS and DVD units and TV sets. Record the model and serial numbers and put them in a computer file along with the photo. Put that on a flash drive and keep that somewhere where it won’t burn or be stolen, like a safety deposit box with other items of value such as savings bonds, will, whatever. You would be surprised what property we have that can’t be identified.

2) Check into a video system to record when you are gone. They are cheaper than ever and, believe me, we catch a lot of crooks who put their mug on camera when they’re burglarizing a building. Put a small plastic-made sign next to the doorbell informing the person at the door that “Premises Are Under Video Surveillance.” This is for folks who want to warn the burglar of the camera so they have the chance to reconsider and move on. The other thought is to not post a sign and when they come in they don’t have a clue and you capture the face on digital photo.

Don’t forget that crooks will steal the camera and, more importantly, the recorder, so use something that perhaps transmits on the Web to another computer somewhere off-site or some place. I leave the details to you but be sneaky.

3) On vacations, unhook the really good stuff and stash it somewhere where they can’t get to it. Have someone pick up the mail and paper. Don’t stop it at the source unless you don’t have anyone who can pick it up.

4) Back to doors. There are products that will enhance your door security. There is a metal doorjamb that fits over the existing jamb. The strike plate inserts and it makes it much harder to force the door open. There are also metal inserts with dead bolt cutouts that insert over the existing door. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have them. If you can’t find them, e-mail me and I’ll give you the info.

5) Most apartment complexes have a “courtesy officer.” They call them courtesy officers because apartment management companies don’t like the word “security,” although I would rather an officer provide “security” than “courtesy.” (Let’s not offend anyone with aggressive titles!)

Anyway, ask management if they have a “courtesy” officer on site and make sure that person is a police officer in the jurisdiction where you live. For example, if you live in Sandy Springs, an officer living there from the DeKalb or Atlanta departments has no arrest powers unless he or she is specially sworn. You might as well have a rent-a-cop! (I want someone who can hook and book at the scene!)

Find out who the courtesy officer is and, when you are out of town, let that person (only) know and ask if they would check the place.

Always remember that crooks have a choice where they want to commit the crimes. This is called Risk vs. Opportunity. Give them less opportunity and the odds go in your favor that they’ll reconsider another target more appealing.

Maybe the video sign will do it, or perhaps some Haz-mat tape over the door. Or even a small paragraph on the door with the note: “Please be quiet, Swine Flu patient inside.”

Whatever it takes.

14 comments Add your comment


August 13th, 2009
8:44 am

Instead of the jump drive you can store your photos and important docs in an online email account.
There are door jams for the doors for while you’re at home. 1k home invasions and counting. Don’t forget the gun safe and shotgun.


August 13th, 2009
9:03 am

The nice thing about a good gun safe is that a lot of them a fire resistant too. So my gun safe is actually just a safe that contains guns and a bunch of other crap. The problem with a gun safe is that we’re not sure that the upper floors of an apartment building will support it, so we might be stuck with first floor apartments for as long as we’re renting, that sort of sucks.


August 13th, 2009
10:16 am

I agree with Mark 318

Get all important mail, ( mortgage, credit card and bank account) sent to your electronic mail account. This prevents others from having access to vital account information. Our neighborhood postal person has lost, misplaced and on numerous occasions delivered our important info to my neighbors – some who have very questionable pasts.

Also, when home, secure of your place with a sturdy steel deluxe door guard rod which anchors the door shut. offers the product for under $10.00.

I can remember my days as an apartment dweller. I would get home and items would be missing from my place.

Now as a homeowner, I fortify my home like Fort Knox in order to make it safe and secure. I am now looking for an inexpensive video system. To live life this way is a sad state of affairs.


August 13th, 2009
10:44 am

“Hook and Book”. LOL! Man does that bring back memories. I’ve not heard that in a long time. I’m still not sure which I like better, that or “Cuff and Stuff”. :)

The Truth

August 13th, 2009
12:15 pm

Home invasions are why people DONT wanna live in a black area! Whats sad is that the good blacks stand up for the scumbags, and blame everything on “white racism”.
Maybe whites don’t wanna live around blacks not because their racist, but because they see the news and have life experience!

Hey all you white liberals that moved to those new houses around Turner Field/ East Atlanta back in the early 2000’s….. how u like your dose of reality now!

What i find crazy is that the most hardcore liberals are usually in areas like Seattle… where they know very little about living in a black majority area.
Funny this is these dumb liberals in a attempted to add “more diversity” imported black Somalis into the Seattle area. Now Somali gangs roam the streets and have killed several white business men/ college students. I wonder how those fools like their “diversity” now!!


August 13th, 2009
10:59 pm

maybe you should consider leaving the city.

The Toad

August 14th, 2009
2:21 am

Just look at the “Race” on the police reports. Nuff said. AMEN,AMEN ,and Amen!


August 14th, 2009
11:10 am

Care to comment? I usually support cops but this is too much.

William Casey

August 19th, 2009
8:28 am

My best advice is to not let strangers in your house! I had a pad of checks (which I foolishly left on my desk) stolen by a COMCAST technician. He faked an ID (as if a negro would have my anglo name and live in Cumming, GA and buy groceries in south DeKALB, yeah right) and stole about $6,000. I got all my money back. God bless Bank of America, who caught the scam. Damn detective T.E. Jackson of the FCPD who did NOTHING to solve my case even though I gave him tons of info. I’m glad that we have Johns Creek police. Let Jackson patrol the ghetto.


August 19th, 2009
4:59 pm

After my divorce, I moved in with a friend for 6 mos. Then I felt “comfortable” enough to get my own place on Roberts Drive, Atlanta, 30350. Within days my ex-husband, Eric, his oldest son, Eric (aka Richard) and Eric’s ex father-in-law, Ken, who had a truck for his business, broke into my apartment. Why do I know it is them? Because I had a small TV, that only went up to channel 15 that they knew about and didn’t take it. Along with the raspberry ginger ale that I know Richard liked was gone.

They even had the gaul to steal the meat I had in the refrigerator!! These jerks took jewelry that was given to me for the births of my daughters from my 1st husband. Sentimental stuff that cannot be replaced.

Fulton Cty police dusted for fingerprints…there were none. They didn’t even check on the 3 fools who had broken into my place. I had photos of the jewelry taken, they told me to check out the Pawn Shops! Imagine that! I would have to check the pawn shops.

All I know is that “what goes around, comes around”. Those 3 idiots will get there rewards when they meet the man upstairs.


December 5th, 2009
10:16 am

Point Much,near white repeat display half gun left since male much speech perhaps appearance approach answer possibility happy nose weekend responsibility screen touch unemployment remind press estate variety standard illustrate time little colour conservative actually newspaper link technical number box director often educational late may worth fuel win guest economic expect church computer cut southern attack block other course learn withdraw clean whatever tend establish round work household twice try want solicitor post industry lunch odd hear store television refuse talk serve game adult space amongst until step elsewhere interview count


January 4th, 2010
4:55 am

Why all the RACIST comments? Funny, when it’s a story that doesn’t involve perceived COLOR or if they show the mug of a NON black person, not a thing to be said but the minute a story happens and the person IS black or happens in a black area…all of the racists jump out the closet to condemn. Shame on you!


February 11th, 2010
2:38 pm

TRUTH – Please move to the moon if you can! What a waste of life!


February 11th, 2010
2:43 pm

So-called “William Casey”…..Who writes checks anymore? It’s time to catch up with the times! It’s only 2010!