How Effective Is Your Condo Security?
In this guide the reader is provided with information about loss control issues. The guide is not a substitute for a thorough loss prevention assessment. In those situations where there is a concern about issues raised in this guide the reader should seek professional advice.
Apartment style condo building security is only as effective as the owners and tenants make it. They should be aware of, and periodically review, the security and safety of their apartment and building.
The building owners and management are responsible for security, including exterior doors and windows, corridor doors and doors to individual apartments. Know about and use the security and safety features in your building and surrounding spaces. Be alert and prevent dangerous situations before they occur.
How Secure is Your Condominium?
Various methods are used to keep apartments and buildings secure from trespassing, theft and vandalism. Security devices, such as deadbolt locks on doors, window locks, controlled-access entrances and well-lit common spaces, all contribute to a secure building. Familiarize yourself with your building and apartment's security measures. The following sections discuss typical apartment building security features.
Your apartment door should have a good deadbolt lock. One feature to look for is a lock throw - the locking bolt should protrude from the door at least 35 mm (1 in.) into the surrounding door frame when placed in the full lock position. A strong deadbolt lock also has a jimmy-proof strike plate (the part of the lock assembly mounted in the door frame to receive the bolt). The strike plate should be secured to the door framing by long screws so that it is fastened to the structure of the wall and not just the door frame.
Locks only work if you use them. Remember to lock your apartment at all times, even while you are inside. Chain-type locks, which are easy to break, offer very little resistance to forced entry.
Install a door viewer (peephole) in your entrance door, if you do not already have one. If you have children, consider installing a peephole at their level. When moving to a new condo apartment, contact management and have the lock cylinder changed. If you lose your keys, replace your lock.
Consider installing a security system.
Intrusion is not just a ground floor or corridor door threat. Always lock balcony doors. There is special hardware to secure sliding balcony doors but a simple, effective, inexpensive solution is a sturdy piece of wood in the door's track to prevent the sliding door from opening. Make sure the sliding part of the door can't be lifted from its track.
Items on the balcony are also vulnerable to theft. If thieves see valuables on a balcony – such as bicycles – they will climb a ladder to steal them. Conceal and secure items you cannot store inside. Lock all bicycles.
Make sure all windows close fully, that the locking hardware is in good condition and that it is easy to lock the window when you shut it. Ensure that a thief cannot lift a horizontal window out of its track. If you have a vented window, install a blocking device so that the window cannot be opened, preventing someone from reaching in from the outside to remove the blocking device. Even on upper floors, a thief can get into your apartment through an open window overlooking a balcony.
Building Entry System
The front door entry system in some apartment buildings allows a resident to remotely let guests into the building.
When you activate the front door entry system, make sure you know who is asking to come in and remind them to close the door behind them. Would-be intruders will sometimes buzz different apartments until someone lets them in. Unknown persons seeking entrance should be referred to the caretaker.
Do not identify yourself on the callboard in the front entrance as a female living alone. Use first initials to identify yourself i.e., J. Jones.
Do not leave messages on your phone saying you are away or on vacation. Tell a trustworthy neighbour when you plan to be away and ask the neighbour to pick-up mail and flyers. Cancel newspaper subscriptions and consider using lights and a radio on timers to make it look, and sound, as if someone is at home.
Do not put a note on your door saying you are away. Notify the caretaker when your apartment will be vacant.
Watch for suspicious persons as you enter the parking garage. Drive back out if you are concerned.
Lock your vehicle and remove any high priced portable items.
Report any suspicious circumstances immediately to the Police and then to the caretaker.
If possible, use the parking garage during periods of high use when others are around.
Park near exit doors or the elevator foyer, and in well-lit areas, if possible.
Ask building management to install security cameras and alarm stations if the garage has a history of theft or security problems.
Report any suspicious persons observed loitering in the area of the locker rooms.
Look and see who is in the elevator before entering. If you feel uncomfortable, do not enter the elevator, wait for the next one.
Stand beside the control panel in the elevator and know how to use the emergency alarm button.
If a suspicious person enters the elevator, leave before the door closes.