Apt Security Advice from the Recently Robbed

As I wrote last week, Alex and I were recently burgled. It was. . . unenjoyable. But, we did learn some important tips from the Chicago PD. They arrived about two hours after we called and by then we’d gone through the apartment moving items, unaware they would want to dust for prints. Hopefully, you’ll never need to know this – but do leave your apt in the condition you find it in as this will enable the detectives to scan for prints. Unfortunately, in our case, they couldn’t find any.

But before you get that point, you can ensure your apt is well-protected. Here’s how:
1) If you have a gate, ensure it has a spring so it closes automatically. Seems like a small-scale tip, I know, but it can have big results. While we’d asked our neighbors to shut the gate after them, they rarely complied. And, not wanting to be those hateful neighbors, we let it go after the first month we moved in. But, part of the problem was that the gate didn’t automatically shut. So, unless you consciously thought about it – wide open she remained. A simple spring now, finally, ensures it stays shut.
2) Re-assess your locks. Especially your deadbolts. Being on the first floor, we realized it was not the safest locale. But, both doors had deadbolts so we thought we were OK. I had thought there was a better chance of someone breaking in through the window than the door itself. But, apparently, deadbolts are no longer made of steel but now made from aluminum, which is a much softer metal. Strong door frames also matter. While you may not have control of the doorframe if you are renting, you can request a deadbolt that comes with a metal panal like the picture shown above. This makes it harder for thieves to pop-out deadbolts
3) Hide your valuables in non-obvious places. When the thief came to our place, unfortunately, most of my jewelry was in my jewelry box. They took it all – quickly, no doubt. But there are companies that make everything from pop cans to bananas that are secret jewelry/valuable storage. Wish I’d thought of this earlier.
4) Be aware of your neighborhood and of any suspicious people who may be casing your apt. About a month before we were broken-in-to, Alex found a guy with a duffle bag in the patio near our apt. As soon as he saw Alex, he left – but it was weird. At that time, we should have taken the above measures..but little did we know. There are also helpful sites like Everyblock that helps you keep in-tune with your neighborhood, for good and for bad. Though, of course, if you are just interested in crime, you can sign up for that d-list.
5) Consider your risk tolerance before you move in. Honestly, we knew our apt wasn’t the safest place when we moved in. But we, naively, thought that nothing would happen to us and that our renter’s insurance would cover everything. We’ll let you know how our insurance from State Farm comes through when we reach out settlement in a week  – but there are things that can’t be replaced. Consider what you’d be willing to lose the next time you search. Sad advice, but true.
Have you ever been robbed? Any tips to share?

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Author My First Apartment

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I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at Cars.com, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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