Apartment Safety Tips for Dangerous, High Crime Areas

Updated on November 2, 2016

Staying Safe in a Not-So-Safe Neighborhood

Securing your apartment against intruders can be done without a lot of expense. Here are some low cost ways to be safer, even in a rougher part of town. An intruders enemy is time, noise and attention -- this can be used to your advantage. Below are 10 steps You can take for a plan that will:

  • Discourage an intruder from attempting to break in in the first place
  • Get an immediate warning when an intruder attempts entry
  • Have physical barriers in place to foil or at least disrupt and delay the intruder
  • Call for help before an intruder can gain control over you (if entry has been made)

In the U.S. there is a break-in every 15 seconds.
In the U.S. there is a break-in every 15 seconds. | Source
A hanging doorknob alarm is cheap and requires no installation.
A hanging doorknob alarm is cheap and requires no installation.
When there is glass in or near the door, a deadbolt lock is needed that requires a key to unlock it from the inside.
When there is glass in or near the door, a deadbolt lock is needed that requires a key to unlock it from the inside. | Source
Experienced burglars can steal valuable items quickly while leaving behind a huge amount of costly damage.
Experienced burglars can steal valuable items quickly while leaving behind a huge amount of costly damage.
Solar powered security lights have motion detectors as well as providing light. They require no wiring and are an easy install.
Solar powered security lights have motion detectors as well as providing light. They require no wiring and are an easy install.

Avoid Being Vulnerable

Get a Simple Hanging Door Alarm
Purchase a Door Motion Sensor Alarm online or at a local security products store. It just hangs on the knob and alerts you when anyone touches the outside of the knob. No installation - just hang it on the knob. Get one for each outside door.(About $25.00).

Secure the Windows
If your windows have no secure locks, you can make your own. For this, you’ll need to borrow or buy a 3/8 inch power drill. Secure double-hung windows by drilling a 3/16 in. hole in the frame center (where the upper and lower window frames overlap). Push a double-headed 12d nail into the hole and the window now can‘t be opened from outside. (If you tell the hardware store person what you're doing, they'll know what you need and will explain it further, if necessary).

Lots of Light = Safety
Ask the landlord to beef up your outside lighting so that it floods the entry way and surroundings. More light is better. Even a desk lamp shining out through a window will help. Put the highest wattage bulbs that are recommended in the outside light fixtures and keep them on all night. Solar powered outside lights are not as bright, but they need no wiring and can be taken with you when you leave.

Doors Need Deadbolt Type Locking Hardware

Many people don’t realize how easy it is for an intruder to kick a door in. Unfortunately, many older structures have weak doors with poor locks and are breech-vulnerable. Each outside door needs a strong, double-keyed deadbolt type lock. Types with an inside twist knob are nearly worthless if the door has a glass pane.

Chain fasteners also offer little protection against a determined intruder. If you've already rented a vulnerable apartment, ask the landlord to install secure door hardware, a peephole and if needed, a stronger door. If he/she won't do this, then you should consider moving out. It’s that important.

Hidden Windows Are a Concern
Any windows hidden from the street or neighbors are a prime target for an intruder. Inside the apartment, you can place something underneath your first floor windows that would be difficult to climb over, such as workout equipment, a glass top coffee table or a jumble of potted plants. You can also block a window off with tall furniture -- not chic but fairly effective.

(L) Most dogs offer some protection. (R) Installing a "Nail Lock" in a window. The drill penetrates the inside sash and goes part way through the outer one.
(L) Most dogs offer some protection. (R) Installing a "Nail Lock" in a window. The drill penetrates the inside sash and goes part way through the outer one. | Source

More Safety Steps

A Furry Sentry?
Where feasible, a dog is a good deterrent. Even a small dog will probably bark and every intruder hates the noise and delay that a dog will cause. However, be humane and don't get a dog if you're gone most of the time. It will need constant care and commitment and Growlie's expenses will be a constant.

Mail Box IDs - Bad Idea
Don't put your name on the bell or mailbox if possible. Instead, use a small sticker and tell your visitors to look for it. If you must display your name, use your last name only, misspell it slightly and add a military title, such as "PFC" or "Sgt."

Always Look Occupied
Make the apartment always look occupied. When you go out, leave the TV on. Leave a note on the door saying "Gone to store. Be right back." Put several lamps on a timer which will turn them on and off at odd times.

Keep the Blinds Closed

Be sure all windows are kept covered to prevent anyone from seeing inside. A quick peek tells the intruder what is worth stealing and if anyone is home. He'll see the layout of your apartment and can tell whether the occupant is male or female and if you live alone.

Other

  • If someone seems to be casing your place, call the police immediately and report it.
  • At night, keep your cell phone nearby so you can call 911 at the first hint of an intrusion.
  • Never open your door to someone saying they need assistance. Offer to call help for them.
  • Joke "pot" stickers or anything indicating there might be drugs inside WILL attract a break-in.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Simple and effective tips for staying safe in sketchy areas.

    • profile image

      mplo 

      7 years ago

      When I was going to college in an urban area, I resided in a University apartment that had a fire escape on it. Fortunately, vent locks were installed in the windows to make it less likely that an intruder would try to enter my apartment at night while I was asleep, and the refrigerator in the kitchen, which was right near the window, also helped slow potential intruders down. Also, because my hours were not that regular, nobody could pin me down. If one can possibly do it, all of the above is recommended, imho.

    • profile image

      mplo 

      7 years ago

      Good article, that contains much useful, common sense information. Spending some time in the martial arts studio, if one has time and/or money might be helpful, too.

    • Hugh Williamson profile imageAUTHOR

      Hugh Williamson 

      7 years ago from Northeast USA

      Hello tritrain -- Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • tritrain profile image

      And Drewson 

      7 years ago from United States

      Very helpful tips! Thanks for sharing.

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