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4 Ways to Avert Crime at Your Apartment Building

Posted by Shawna Ivy on Nov 12, 2020

Apartment building security must be a high priority on an apartment property management’s list. And here’s why: Apartments and condos have an 85 percent greater chance of being burglarized than single-family homes according to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC).

It doesn’t matter if your multifamily residential property is in a nice neighborhood. Crime doesn’t discriminate. Criminals target apartment buildings because they offer more opportunities. They are like public places. Employees and residents don’t know everyone. Thieves know this and find ways into the building.

Why Apartment Building Residents Want Security

Residents want security. That’s especially true as more people become remote workers who work from home. This is one of the biggest side effects of the pandemic as many companies plan to allow employees to work from home for the foreseeable future.

A OnePoll and Citrix survey has found that more than a third of employees believe their company will allow remote work after the pandemic passes. Almost one-third of the survey’s respondents plan to find work with organizations that permit telecommuting. If organizations don’t take steps, they could risk losing their talent.

Remote working was already climbing before COVID-19 occurred. “State of the American Workplace” references a Gallup survey that reveals more than 40 percent of respondents work remotely some of the time, up from 34 percent in 2012. Moreover, CNBC mentioned an IWG study that says 70 percent of workers work remotely at least once a week.

Furthermore, all generations of renters want security. That includes Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation X, and Generation Z. Over half of renters in an Assurant survey say they will pay more for security features.

Apartment Building Security Recommendations

Condo and apartment buildings have different needs. Yet they all have one thing in common – the need for security. The NCPC safety checklist for apartments includes the following:

  • Is there control over who enters and exits the building?
  • Are common areas, walkways, and parking lots well-lit 24 hours a day?
  • Are shrubs trimmed, all lights working, and trash removed?
  • Are fire stairs locked from the stairwell side to allow exits, but not entry?

The following four ways will help deter crimes in your apartment building and support NCPC’s apartment building safety recommendations.

1. Implement Remote Video Surveillance

Not all video surveillance systems are created equal. There are some on the market that show grainy video. They don’t give enough information to piece together what happened or provide identifying information. Video surveillance has come a long way from that.

Remote video surveillance involves placing cameras in strategic locations around the apartment building and property. This ensures the video cameras have eyes on the entire property and captures all activities.

It’s a proactive security solution because it can help deter crime. Many security solutions don’t work until a crime happens. The combination of video analytics and human intelligence makes it possible. The technology contains many programmed scenarios. When it encounters one, it alerts the monitoring operator.

The operator can issue a warning to a suspicious person. If the person does not leave, then the operator can call the police and direct them to the intruder’s location. Often, the police arrest suspects before damage occurs. Unlike security guards, video surveillance can help lower

Video surveillance is more affordable than you think. The cost of video surveillance offers one of the fastest ROI and costs up to 60 percent less than the price of security guards.

2. Add an Access Control System

One of the items on the NCPC safety checklist for apartment buildings is control over who enters and exits the building. You don’t want to give intruders the opportunity to slip into the building unnoticed. An access control system lets you keep the doors locked at all times. Employees and residents can enter the building with an access card, key fob or by entering a code. Access cards and key fobs tend to be a better option as some residents may forget the code.

However, it’s possible for piggybacking and tailgating to happen with an access control system. A resident may hold the door open for a stranger. It’s natural for people to be polite and let someone in. This is where an integrated security system can help.

Access control combined with remote video surveillance puts eyes on the entrance. It relies on advanced technology and human intelligence to help catch problems before they happen. As soon as someone piggybacks into the building, video surveillance can alert the trained monitoring operator. The operator can issue a warning and ask the person who is piggybacking to leave the building.

An example of how access control and cameras work well together is by matching the time stamp from the access control and video to see when someone entered. This is not all an integrated security system can do as it offers other benefits. It’s a proactive security solution that can help enhance security, save on costs, and mitigate risks.

3. Maintain Lighting and Landscaping

Lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest security solutions. Intruders hunt for dark, shadowy places. Lighting takes that away from them. An effective lighting system requires figuring out what kind of lights you need, how many, and where to put them. You paid good money for a security consultant to review your lighting. Don’t let that go to waste by not fixing broken lights.

Like lighting, landscaping can create dark, shadowy spots where criminals can hide. While good landscaping makes a place feel like home, smart landscaping has little negative impact on security. Smart landscaping won’t do any good if it’s not maintained. Overgrown shrubs and trees create hiding spots.

4. Skip Security Guards

It’s understandable why apartment property managers think security guards are the best solution. It puts eyes and a body on your property. However, there are more disadvantages to hiring security guards than there are advantages, and those problems can be costly. Here are the reasons security guards don’t deliver a good return on security investment (ROSI).

Security guards are expensive.

Just the security guard’s salary alone could be cost-prohibitive. It’s rare that a business needs to hire only one security guard. They need to work in shifts. With every security guard they hire, the cost multiplies.

Their lack of focus can lead to expensive damage. Two Montreal security guards
overlooked an open window in a building. As a result, the pipes froze and erupted. The flooding caused $1.5 million worth of damage. The City of Montreal is suing the workers’ union and the security guards.


Security guards are a liability risk. They tend to cause more problems that end up costing you far more than their salaries. Compared to police officers, security guards receive little, if any training. It turns out that some states and companies don’t require security guards to undergo training or get enough of it.

Police officers take huge amounts of training to learn how to respond to various scenarios. This training helps them overcome a human’s fight or flight response. Security guards don’t typically obtain enough training to overpower this human response. Besides, they can sue a property if property management’s negligence is the cause of an on-the-job injury.

Guards have been tied to crimes. Criminals often approach security guards for help committing a crime. Sometimes security guards inadvertently cause a crime. This can happen when they talk to people revealing inside information. A thief can use the information from these conversations to plan illegal activities.

Reactive security

Criminals monitor security guards. They learn their patrolling schedule and enter the property when the guards aren’t around. It decreases the chances of the guards catching the crime before it happens or even while it happens.

Security guards also can’t capture the crime on video. It’s true, they probably have cell phones. However, what are the chances they will remember to take them out and record the action? They’ll be focused on doing their duty and protecting themselves.

The fact they’re human is also their downfall. They may let people piggyback into the building. Here’s a video of a security guard dealing with a fight on his property and reached out to us for assistance.

Incomplete coverage

Security guards can only see what’s in their view around them. This leaves a lot of unprotected places on the property. There may also be areas of the building that aren’t safe like the rooftop. Additionally, they may not be as efficient in watching footage from the surveillance cameras. They get tired or miss something on one of the feeds.

Remote video surveillance is different because it does not depend on one person. A team of operators can monitor the cameras. Video cameras don’t need breaks or sleep. When monitoring operators need to take a break, their posts are taken over by someone until their break is over.

How to Get Started with Apartment Building Security

The multifamily residential industry has different security requirements than other industries. You’ll want to start by talking to companies with industry experience. Be sure to add Stealth to your list. When you work with Stealth, our security experts design a custom security plan for your property. Our goal is to deliver exactly what you need, nothing more and nothing less.

In fact, if you already have security cameras in place, we can often watch those cameras. We can also do system health checks to ensure they remain in working order.

Even within the multifamily industry, the requirements are not going to be the same for every condo and apartment building. Download your free Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building.

It delves into what you can do to secure your apartment building while protecting your employees and residents. The guide also shares four lines of defense you need in apartment building security. You’ll learn how to choose the right security solution without overpaying for it. Ready to learn more? Contact us.