Tips & Tricks

Keep Your Apartment Safe with DIY Home Security

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Renting an apartment doesn’t have to mean going without your preferred level of security. It’s an intimidating fact that renters are 85% more likely to experience a burglary than homeowners, so why not increase your protection?

As a renter or homeowner, there are several ways to beef up your security without ever contacting a security company or paying monthly service charges. Here are tips and tricks for securing your place all on your own:

Before discovering what you can do to add additional security to your apartment, ask yourself if you need it. Do you have pets or valuables you keep at home? How about tech gear? And how safe is your neighborhood? Once you’ve determined that you could benefit from extra protection, it’s time to choose what you’d like to use, whether that is residential gate access control systems, new window and door locks, or a smart doorbell.

DIY Home Security

Threat Assessment Techniques

As rent trends in Detroit, Michigan has skyrocketed to know what you will need to protect your home correctly, you will have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes — a burglar’s to be specific. Take a walk around your place and keep note of potential threats. Do you have a dark entryway? A secondary access like a patio or fire escape? How old and secure are your windows? Once you know the weak points of your place, you will be able to ensure the proper security measures.

If you have trouble assessing your apartments threats, call your local police department. They will be able to offer you further tips on what to look for.

Consider DIY Home Security Systems

Choosing a DIY security system will still leave you with a monthly bill, but the cost is far less than that of a professionally installed system. Some DIY security system options cost less than $500 over a three-year period. This is at least 67% less than traditionally installed systems and 73% of millenials believe this technology makes their homes more safe. Systems like these are considered DIY because you take care of the installation by following manuals and guidelines, and then you pay the monthly fee for the tech service.

Smart DIY home security systems do more than just monitor your front door and send alerts to your phone. Many have motion detectors for the interior of your home, as well as window sensors that alert your smartphone when a window is opened or closed. Alerts for when doors are left ajar as well as non-security issues like detecting water buildup in the basement and the ability to call 911 are also included in some systems. Some are even integrated with thermostats and lights, allowing you to adjust the temperature or flick a light on while you’re out and about — all from the touch of your phone. All systems will alert you and even set off an alarm if an intruder breaches. If a break in does occur, chances are good that your loss will be less than if you had no security system. Research has shown that homes protected by functioning security systems experience 39% less financial loss than those with no system in place.

An added bonus to DIY security systems is their portability. If you move residences, you can take down and easily move the equipment with you. Traditional home security systems are hardwired and therefore are not moved home to home. For all around best home protection, DIY home security systems are the way to go, but they are not your only option.

Install Smart Locks

Fact: 34% of break-ins come through the front door.

Keeping that number in mind, front door safety is a priority. Along with a camera set-up, or even without one, changing out your usual lock and key is an easy way to prevent break-ins. Check with your landlord as a renter for permission to remove the traditional lock and key and store it safely for when you move out. Next, purchase a smart lock.

Smart locks come in different variations depending on what type of security makes you feel the most comfort. You can choose coded entry locks, the perk being that you can change the code as you see fit, like after having a long term house guest or after a bad break up. You can also go keyless and codeless entry with a lock that works in tune with your smartphone to let you in and out of your place. If you like to feel really sci-fi, install a thumbprint accessible lock. With many smart locks, you can let trusted visitors in your home remotely as well. Ultimately the choice is yours, and all options will help enhance security over a pickable lock and key scenario.

Use Reinforcements

Once again, before making changes to a rental space, clear it with the landlord or property management. Front doors are easily reinforced with additional deadbolts and chain locks. If you notice your front door hinges are on the outside, install set screws to assure no one can just take your door off the hinges and let themselves in. Consider adding a better quality kick plate to the bottom of your door or reinforcing the door jambs — making them as crowbar-proof as possible.

Patio doors, especially the sliding glass variety, do not have the best locking systems. In order to add inexpensive extra protection to a sliding glass door, place a sturdy wooden or metal pole in the track of the non-opening side. This will make opening the door impossible unless you remove the pole. It’s a  simple solution to protect that entry into your home. If it’s a patio door, check the locks and decide if a new deadbolt would help further secure the door and reinforce as recommended for the front door.

Another area for caution is windows. Sash locks are a great way to easily prevent access, and if you have older windows that open by sliding up and down, a pole like the one used for a sliding glass door will also prevent anyone from opening the window from the outside. Motion detection is another step you can take to keep alerted if a window or door is opened within your home. Motion detectors are purchasable on their own as well as being part of home security systems. Keep in mind that window air conditioning units are a target for burglars as they are a weaker access point.

Choose a Wi-Fi Connected Camera

You don’t have to be super tech savvy to install a camera by your front door. There are several options to choose from, including cameras with 24/hr live streaming capabilities, doorbell cameras, waterproof cameras and more. The primary function of each is to allow you to see who is coming to and from your place, primarily when you are not at home. Cameras range in price from $99 to over $400 and of course, each camera product has its own additional features — making it your task to find one that suits your needs within your budget.

If you are more technically savvy than most, consider rigging up an old smartphone as a camera. There are apps available to turn your old phone into a security camera. This is the most inexpensive option and great for those with old phones who have no idea what to do with them! Not only is this a smart solution, but it’s also an eco-friendly one. Older phones don’t have the best resale value, especially with scratches or cracked screens. Setting one up as a webcam to guard your house is the perfect way to up-cycle that older smartphone model, and keep your place safe at the same time!

Act Wisely

Protecting your apartment or home is more than simply buying and installing security measures. Part of keeping your place and the valuables inside safe is acting wisely. If you know you will be traveling, leave a light on, close window coverings, and have a trusted friend pop by occasionally or even crash there while you’re out of town. Make your place seem like someone is home is a great way to deter burglars. Think like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, minus a full fledged mannequin dance party…unless that’s your thing. Be mindful of who you give spare keys or passcodes to as well. Consider yourself a weak link within your home’s security and you’ll be best prepared to keep it safe.

Research suggests that 83% of burglars watch for alarms before they break in and 60% of them won’t bother trying if they spot a security system. Therefore, simply having a visible security measure is enough to protect yourself, but it’s a good idea to make it a functional one, too. Putting some or all of these measures in place allows you to prevent your home from becoming a target for crime and with camera footage you are also set up to respond. Real-time alerts allow you to act fast and images from security cameras are the best way to catch criminals in the act. With any of these options widely available, you have the power to protect your home and the valuables inside with ease.

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