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Many apartment renters assume that they’re out of luck when it comes to home security. Though you won’t be able to install a whole house security system, there are dozens of other options for protecting yourself if you live in an apartment. Ensuring that your apartment is safe starts not when you move it, but while you’re searching for a place to rent. It should go without saying, but always look for an apartment in an area that looks safe and a complex that looks secure. Avoid moving into an apartment complex that is missing essential outdoor security devices like gate locks and outdoor lighting; these are things that you won’t be able to fix yourself.

Apartment complexes are high-traffic and you may not recognize everyone who lives there. Don’t let the fact that there are other people nearby allow you to lower your guard. You never know who could be inside the building, even if it is a secure apartment building. Though it’s considered neighborly to hold the door open for someone entering behind you, don’t let anyone in if you don’t know them. Some criminals will stand near the entrance, pretending to fumble with their keys, because they know that a resident will let them in eventually. Keeping your apartment safe starts with not letting unknown people into the building.

Walking to the front door of your apartment is not the time to talk on your cell phone while reaching for your keys while trying not to drop your bag of groceries. Avoid looking distracted or vulnerable, and be on guard for anyone trying to sneak up behind you to enter your apartment.

There are plenty of steps you can take to protect the interior of your apartment. Take your safety into your own hands by keeping your doors and window locked, no matter what floor of the building you live on, even while you’re at home. Have the locks changed when you move into a new apartment; you never know who already has a key to your apartment. Don’t be too generous when giving out copies of your keys, and install a deadbolt lock for extra security. Do not leave spare keys under the mat or on top of the door frame; this is the first place a burglar will look for them. If this is your plan, you might as well leave the key in the door.

Many apartment dwellers are looking for home security options that are portable and easy to take with them when they move. Door or window alarms, which double as portable personal alarms, can alert others to the fact that someone is entering your apartment, and help to scare the burglar away, but they won’t physically stop an attack. Stun guns or pepper spray canisters are great ways to stop any attacker or burglar within seconds. Both are ideal for those in short-term living arrangements, because they can go wherever you go. Both pepper spray and stun guns also make effective self defense weapons to keep in your car or in your handbag for protection while you’re away from home.

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