Burglary is mostly a crime of opportunity that capitalizes on the carelessness
and neglect of the homeowner or renter.  This section contains tips on
preventing home burglaries, vandalism, and other property crimes by
controlling access, providing visibility, and maintaining your property.  It also
contains tips on protecting your home when you are away, as well as
protecting the property you take with you.  And if you do become a victim,
it includes tips on helping the police get to your home and to identify your
property.  These tips can significantly enhance the security of your home
and property.  

Your home is your castle
...or is it?  Are you really safe once you're in your home or apartment
and lock your door?  In an open society your apartment/home should
be the sanctuary for you and your family.  Your apartment is the only
environment where you have control over who can get close to you or
your family.  Protecting your apartment and family from criminal
intrusion should be high on your list of priorities.

By far, the most common threat to an apartment/home unit is
burglary. Burglary, by definition, is a non-confrontational crime, but
being victimized can leave a family feeling vulnerable and violated.  To
prevent a burglary, it is important to first gain an understanding of who
commits them and why.  The majority of apartment/home burglaries
occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or at
school.  Burglaries also occur at night when there are obvious signs that
no one is home.  Most apartment/home burglars are young males
looking for things that are small, expensive, and can easily be
converted to cash.  Items like cash, jewelry, guns, watches, laptop
computers, and other small electronic devices are high on the list.  
Quick cash is needed for living expenses and drugs.

Statistics tell us that more than 30% of all apartment/home burglars
gained access through an open door or window.  Ordinary household
tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small
hammers are most often used by burglars.  Although apartment/home
burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a
selection process.

The burglar's selection process is simple.  Choose an unoccupied
apartment with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and
with the best escape routes.  What follows is a list of suggestions to
minimize your risk by making your home unattractive to potential

Doors and Locks
The first step is to "harden the target" or make your apartment more
difficult to enter.  Remember the burglar will simply bypass your
apartment if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools
than they possess.  Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage
doors.  Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the
weakest followed by the back door.  The garage and back doors also
provide the most cover.  Burglars also know to look inside your car for
keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even inside your garage.  
Apartment managers should use solid core doors and high quality locks
on exterior doors that will resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking
attempts.  A quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 deadbolt lock will have a
beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used for forced
entry.  A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a 'dead latch'
mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.

Use a solid core wood or metal door for all entrance points
Doors should fit tightly into the door frame
Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch bolt
Use a quality, heavy-duty, door knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch
Use a heavy-duty four-screw strike plate installed with 3-inch
screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame
Use a wide-angle 160° peephole mounted no higher than 58

Forced Entry
The most common way used to force entry through a door with a
wooden frame is simply to kick it open.  The weakest point is almost
always the strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place followed
by glass panels in doors. The average door strike plate is secured with
only 1/2-inch screws set into the soft door jamb molding. These
lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be
torn away with a firm kick. Because of this construction flaw, it makes
sense to upgrade to a heavy-duty four-screw strike plate. They are
available in most quality hardware stores and home improvement
centers and are definitely worth the extra expense. Install this strike
plate using 3-inch screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. This
one step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced
entries. You and your family will sleep safer in the future.

The use of a Door Stop Alarm will ensure your safety should a burglar
be able to actually open even with all of the measures taken above.  
See item at left.

Sliding Glass Doors
Sliding glass doors are usually installed at the rear of an apartment
making them good candidates for entry by a burglar.  In warm
climates, an experienced burglar knows that sliding glass doors are
often left standing open for ventilation or for pet access.  Since they
slide horizontally, it is important to have a secondary blocking device in
place to prevent sliding the door fully open from the outside. This can
be easily accomplished by inserting a Dual Function Door Security Bar
shown below.

Sliding glass doors are notorious for failing to prevent a forced entry
attempt especially in apartment buildings.  This is because of the wear
and tear and lack of maintenance they receive and due to the
inadequate nature of many of the latching mechanisms.  Sliding glass
doors don’t have locks on them, only latches.  The latches are made of
aluminum and can become worn or out of adjustment. The most
common methods used to force entry, aside from breaking the glass, is
by prying the door near the latch or lifting the door off the track. The
blocking device described above solve half the equation.  To prevent
lifting, you need to keep the sliding door rollers in good condition and
properly adjusted.

You can also install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through
both the sliding and fixed portion of the door.  There are also numerous
locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store
that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally.  
Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism
that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation
identification is in place, if applicable. Apartment managers should be
careful not to misrepresent that these devices are in place if they are
not.  Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs.

Use a secondary blocking device on all sliding glass doors
Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted
Keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted
Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins
Use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals, or block
watch decal, if applicable

Sliding Windows
Windows are left unlocked and open at a much higher rate than doors.  
An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole
reason for an apartment to be selected by a burglar.  Ground floor
windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons. Upper
floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed easily from a
stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies. Windows have
latches, not locks, and therefore should have secondary blocking
devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside.  Inexpensive
items shown to the left work well for vertical sliding windows -- The Mini
Window Alarm.

For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches and
make sure you can't reach in from the outside and remove the blocking
device.  In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be
capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire
codes.  Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for
ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally.  
The least expensive and easiest method is to use the Mini Window
Alarm.  Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch
mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block
watch/operation identification system is in place, if applicable.  
Apartment managers should be careful not to misrepresent that these
devices are in place if they are not.

Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices
Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for
Use anti-lift devises to prevent window from being lifted out
Use crime prevention or alarm decals on accessible windows, if

Be a Good Neighbor
Good neighbors should look out for each other.  Get to know your
on each side of your apartment and the three directly across from
you.  Invite them into your apartment, communicate often, and establish
trust.  Good neighbors will watch out for your apartment and vehicle when
you are away, if you ask them.  They can report suspicious activity to
management, to the police, or to you while you are away.  Between them,
good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence
by allowing authorized vendors to enter your apartment.

Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can
inspect the inside of your apartment periodically to see that all is well.  
Allowing a neighbor or management to have a key solves the problem of
hiding a key outside the door.  Experienced burglars know to look for hidden
keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge.  Requiring a
service vendor to contact your neighbor to gain access will send the
message that someone is watching.  This neighborhood watch technique
sets up what is called 'territoriality.' This means that your neighbors will take
ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood.  
This concept works great in apartment communities.  This practice helps
deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way.  Of course for this to work,
you must reciprocate and offer the same services.

The biggest difficulty getting to this level of oversight is taking the first step.  
You can take it by calling your apartment manager and have 3rd Eye
Surveillance present these products and tips at a Crime Watch Meeting.  We
can help you set this up.  You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to
your home for coffee and begin the information exchange.  You'll be amazed
how the process runs on automatic from there.

Get to know your adjacent apartment neighbors
Invite them into your home and establish trust
Agree to watch out for each other
Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
Return the favor and communicate often
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