It is amazing that there are so many apartments that can still be easily broken into by any amateur. Here are some simple steps that will help make your apartment more secure.
Secure the Doors
Whenever you move into a new apartment, always make sure that the landlord changes the locks. They frequently do not change the locks and any former tenant may have keys to your home. If you live in a city, this can be a scary thought.
Make sure the doors have dead bolts with at least one-inch bolts. This means that the bolt extends one inch into the door frame. A dead bolt is a separate lock usually mounted six-inches or more above the main handle lock. In addition to the one-inch bolt, three-inch screws should be used to secure the latch plate that the bolt slides into. This isn’t necessary if the door frame is metal and securely mounted, but is necessary if the frame is made of wood. The three inch screws will assure that the latch plate is secured to the wall framing, rather than just the door frame. Door frames are easy to break.
If your apartment does not have a dead bolt, ask the landlord to install one. If they will not install the lock, landlords will frequently allow you to install a dead bolt lock if you leave a key with their office so they can access the apartment in an emergency. They may also require that you leave the lock on the door when the lease expires and you move out, but this is a very small price to pay for the added security.
Securing the Windows and Sliding Doors
If your windows or a sliding door can be easily accessed from the ground level or front a nearby balcony, steps should be taken to secure these potential entry points. There are a number of secondary locking devices for windows and sliding doors available at a hardware store. One simple way to secure sliding doors and sliding windows is to cut a length of 3/4 inch round dowel rod and drop it into the window or door track. The dowel should be cut to a length that does not allow the window or door to be slid open, but it should be easy enough for you to remove from the inside if you have to exit the room in an emergency. This will prevent someone from breaking the door or window latch with a pry bar.
Make Sure That You Know Who Is At the Door
A peephole is a must for any apartment. Make sure that you know who is at the door before you open it. The peephole should have a wide angle lens so that you can see if anyone is hiding near the side of the door. Use the peephole to make sure that you know who is at the door before you open the door or respond to the visitor.
It is almost impossible to completely secure a home or apartment from a serious intruder who is intent on breaking into your residence. However, the steps outlined above will make the break-in process more difficult and should dissuade amateur thieves who do not want to make any noise.