Protect Yourself from Apartment Crime

Before you buy or rent, research crime in the area: Interview police about the neighborhood. Ask other renters in a building you are considering what kind of people live and work there and if there have been intruders or burglaries.

  • Find out whether building employees are bonded. In order to be bonded, a background check is done, so more information is known about a worker.
  • Ask to see the basement and rooftop exits and the laundry area; check to be sure they are well lit and secure.
  • Check that the doors to a unit you are interested in are metal reinforced or solid wood, not hollow core.
  • Avoid ground-floor apartments, which provide easy access to thieves.
  • Change the lock cylinders as soon as you move in. If the building staff offers to change them, watch as they do it.
  • Check local laws regarding the legality of the landlord or building employees entering your apartment unannounced. If necessary, try to have it written into your lease that no one can enter your apartment without permission. For emergencies, give the super or manager the name of a nearby friend who has a set of keys. If the law requires that you provide the building manager with keys, make sure they are locked up and identified by code not apartment. Ask periodically if there has been a change in building personnel. If so, insist that lock cylinders be changed.
  • If a maintenance person you don't recognize wants to do work in your apartment, always ask through the door to have an ID held up to your peephole. Make him wait outside while you phone the management to verify that he is currently employed. When you do allow workmen in, notify a neighbor and leave your apartment door open so neighbors could hear you call for help if necessary. Never let anyone in early in the morning if you're wearing just a robe.

From: February 1992, Glamour

Note from Roxanne Barton Conlin: These steps may seem far too cautious. They are not. Women must protect themselves. This is an excellent checklist. Above all, however, trust your instincts. If someone makes you uncomfortable, do not be embarrassed to leave an elevator, or slam the door, or walk or run away. We have learned that many of our clients had suspicions, but did not act on them because they might be wrong. Better wrong than the alternative.