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Tips for bolstering apartment security

Tips for bolstering apartment security

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2008 9:22 pm

By ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it comes to home security, apartment dwellers face many different challenges than their homeowner friends, largely because so much about their environment — from the kind of exterior lighting to what kind of door separates them from the outside world — is out of their control. While some buildings may naturally be more secure than others, with 24-hour security staff and closed-circuit TV monitoring, some renters may not be so lucky. Aside from complaining to the landlord or moving elsewhere, renters can bolster their sense of security by taking a few precautions that can go a long way toward making them less attractive targets of crime. That could be crucial, given that while many types of other crimes fell last year, burglaries rose by 4 percent in U.S. cities with one million or more people, according to FBI statistics. For starters, experts advise, apartment dwellers should change all the locks when they first move into an apartment. The previous tenant may not have changed their locks, and there’s no telling who may have a means of strolling into an apartment and relieving the new tenant of their prized possessions. Many home alarm systems now employ wireless technology, making them relatively quick and easy to install in apartments, without the need for drilling into walls or running cables. Home security system manufacturer GE Security Inc., even makes a version of the control module that would typically be affixed to a wall in a tabletop design. “For apartments, it’s ideal,” says Steve Hill, global communications leader for GE Security. In the absence of a full security system, experts say one or two tiny Internet Protocol digital cameras that can transmit images via the Web can amply cover most apartments. “You can do what is known as an ad-hoc system, and that is nothing more than tying that IP camera into your home computer as long as you have an Internet connection,” says Frank Santamorena, a principal at Security Experts, Consulting & Design LLC in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Think of it like a glorified nanny cam. Some of the cameras come with built-in motion detectors, so they only record video when something activates them. A good IP camera runs about $150 or $200, Santamorena says. Apartment dwellers should also consider doing a cursory background check on their landlord and their neighbors, he says. Even a simple Google.com search can turn up potential red flags on someone right next door. Other online tools, such as CriminalSearches.com or the state sex offender registry, may uncover a previous conviction. Beyond measures to safeguard their home from entry, people who live in apartments should also take steps to avoid leaving themselves vulnerable to other types of theft — a cyber-crook doesn’t have to break into your home to steal from you. Apartment dwellers who use a Wi-Fi connection at home should make sure their computer network is locked. And they should use a crosshatch shredder to destroy all bills and other documents with personal information. “That’s vital in an apartment,” says Santamorena. Published in The Messenger 10.24.08

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