Apartment security is one of the top concerns of homeowners and tenants. According to FBI statistics, there have been over 1,400,000 burglaries nationwide in 2017. The report for 2018. is still not available, but the numbers have been pretty consistent over the years.
Falling into this statistic is not as hard as some people think. If you live in a shady neighborhood you are directly more exposed to tug behavior and eventual burglary attempts.
But if you live in a nice apartment complex, you too could be target of thieves simply because you might own expensive stuff that is worth stealing.
So how can you secure your apartment and your family from break-ins? That’s the topic of this article. These are the most important methods you can utilize to keep the thugs away from your home:
1. Locate security weaknesses like a burglar
Take 10-15 minutes to inspect your apartment for security weaknesses. In other words, write down or memorize all the potential entry points.
Check all the doors and windows to see if there are any cracks or broken parts that could be exploited by someone trying to forcefully enter your apartment. Don’t forget balcony doors and roof windows if you have them, because they too can be used by an athletically gifted invader.
If you’ve written down or can remember all the entry points and potential weaknesses, you can being to address them. In the following tips I will guide you through the process of securing some very common apartment security weaknesses.
You might have some that are particular for your situation, but I believe this is a pretty comprehensive list and should be enough for most apartment owners.
Tenants will also find some simple security solutions that won’t put them in trouble with the renter of the apartment because they don’t require any permanent installation.
If you’re a tenant and want to address the underlying security weaknesses by making some permanent changes, make sure to ask the owner first since you can get in trouble if they don’t like the final result.
2. Fix or replace cracked doors and windows
Any larger cracks or gaps in doors and windows can reduce their security. I recommend using this 100% silicone sealant from Amazon since it can be used to patch up a variety of materials, including: clean metal, glass, ceramic, most non-oily woods, painted surfaces and plastics.
It forms a tough and flexible seal which actually looks good because it doesn’t crack or shrink after. Keep in mind that you’ll need a caulk gun that can fit a 10 oz tube in order to apply it.
3. Replace door locks if you’re just moving in
When moving into a new apartment, you can never know for sure if the previous owner or tenant has copied the keys and is still holding unto them.
You could wake up to a nasty surprise of someone sneaking around looking for your wallet and grandma’s necklace.
Or you might go on vacation and return to a ravaged apartment without any clear signs of break-in such as smashed windows or broken locks. This can only suggest that the home invasion was performed by someone who has the key to the apartment.
In order to avoid this aggravating scenario from happening, I recommend replacing the locks on all of your external doors. Windows as well, if the locks are designed in such a way that the window can be opened from the outside by using a key.
Most users love the Kwikset 909 Electronic Deadbolt which is often labeled as the “best value” lock on the market. thanks to its affordable price and high quality. It operates on 4 AA batteries and has a number of useful features:
- Backlit digital keypad
- 8 customizable access codes + a master code option
- Press a single button to lock
- Auto-lock feature allows you to set it to lock after 30 seconds on it’s own, which can be useful in case you forgot to do it or you’re in a rush
- It can also be locked or unlocked using a key that comes with the lock
- You can re-key the lock by using the SmartKey learn tool that is part of the package
This deadbolt can fit on all standard doors. The latch has adjustable backset 2-3/8 to 2-3/4″ which fits all standard door preparations.
However, there is one better lock that has all of these features and then some. It’s the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt with Built-In Alarm. This is more than just a deadbolt. It’s basically like buying a bodyguard to guard the entrance to your castle. Here are the important security features that it has:
- Works with Alexa for voice control
- Has a durable touch screen keypad and lock cylinder on exterior and thumb turn on interior side
- Has a backup key
- It can store up to 30 personalized user codes at a time
- Built-in alarm with 3 alert settings
- Uses Z-wave technology to connect to your home automation system. This let’s you lock or unlock the door remotely via the web or smartphone
Schlage deadbolt runs on 4 AA batteries just like Kwikset, and is designed to fit standard doors. It also has the highest residential security grade (ANSI Grade 1).
But there’s one aspect where Kwikset is better, and that’s the SmartKey re-key technology which this lock doesn’t have. So changing keys would be a bigger hassle. But aside from that it’s top notch as over 4000 positive customer reviews on Amazon confirm.
So the question is only whether you want to invest in a technologically advanced lock or one that’s more basic. If you want a deadbolt that only requires a key and no additional setup or maintenance, my top recommendation is Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt.
It’s very similar to the Kwikset 909 that I mentioned previously, it just doesn’t have the electronic features such as code entry and keypad. But they share the very useful SmartKey re-key technology.
So both of these locks can be valuable assets especially for landlords who need to change keys often to keep up with increasing security demands of their rental properties.
4. Secure the front door
You can easily secure your front door by implementing one or more of these security devices:
- Better deadbolt locks (recommendations in tip #3)
- Security bar – A security bar can be used to secure french doors, sliding doors and regular doors. For securing a regular door, make sure you get a bar that has a rubber end for on-floor placement and a door knob handler on the other side. The Master Lock’s security bar fits the bill in this regard. If someone tries to forcefully break-in, the security bar will keep the door in place. However, this is only a solution for when you’re at home or if you can walk out through a different door after placing it. Because you too won’t be able to open the door if you secure it first.
- Door barricade – This is very similar to a security bar, but it’s a more permanent solution since you have to secure it with screws to the floor. It’s purpose is also to protect the door against forced entry with a similar method. This barricade is the most highly rated out of the bunch.
- Door Wedge Alarm – The wedge is placed with the narrow part under the door. If someone pushes against the door and opens it, the alarm will go off. This door wedge alarm is a very small device so it’s good for travel as well.
- Video doorbell – This device allows you to see who’s at the door. If you get one with a motion detector, it will send you an alert on your electronic device if someone approaches the door. Check tip #7 down below for video doorbell recommendations.
- Alarm system – You can use a programmable alarm system like SKK Home Security System to protect all entry points. For example, you can program it to be on the defensive at nighttime or while you’re away. It can turn on and turn off after the time has ended. You can also turn it on and off remotely so that it doesn’t go off when you try to open the door. You can also use a more simple alarm like Doberman that you stick to a door/window surface and it goes off when any vibrations occur on the surface. This alarm can be turned on and off only by using the switch on the device. So it’s not an ideal option for securing all entry points when you’re going out since you will inevitably activate it when you try to open the door from the outside when you return home.
Having said that, there are inswing and outswing doors. In other words, some doors open outwardly and others inwardly.
How to secure an outswing door?
If you have an outward opening door, your door can hardly be opened by force. But it could be removed from the hinges, since the hinges are located outside of the apartment. If the pin from the hinges is removed, the door can be as well. Installing a door lock hinge protector or security hinges with non-removable pin is the best way to secure this type of door.
Check out how to do it in my outswing door security guide.
5. Reinforce the windows
You can secure your windows better by implementing these methods:
- Improving the locks so they can’t be manipulated from the outside.
- Improving the glass so it doesn’t break as easily (or at all).
- Using surveillance and/or alarm system as a deterrent and in order to act quickly in case of a break-in attempt.
Window locks: Which locks you should get depends on the way your window opens. For sliding windows you can use a simple burglar bar or security bar that I recommended in the previous tip to block it from sliding. For regular windows the locks are usually of better quality, and doing anything extra is not necessary.
Tougher glass: The problem with windows is that they can easily be broken from outside and then the type of lock you’re using is not even important. So make sure that the glass panels are reinforced in some way. Get either double-pane glass, laminated glass or bullet-proof glass, all of which are much harder to break.
Since replacing the entire panel can cost a lot of money and requires professional assistance, many homeowners use window security film instead. This is a popular 8 mil thick security film that sticks to the surface of the window and keeps the glass shards in place when someone tries to break it. So breaking the window requires more effort (and noise). Check the link to find the one that fits your window’s dimensions.
Surveillance/alarm: The security alarms that I recommended for securing the front door can be used to secure the windows as well.
Doberman alarm mentioned previously is an excellent choice because it’s cheap, effective and easy to set up. Just stick it on the window and turn it on. If anyone tries to open the window or smash it, the alarm will go off and produce annoying sound that will wake everyone up and expose the evil attempt!
You could also install an outdoor security camera to observe the window area and send you an alert if excessive movement is detected in the area. Check out tip #7 of this article for surveillance camera recommendations.
Window grills: Window grills or bars can be used to cover the window from the outside. These are essentially metal bars that are difficult to remove, so the burglar would have to cut through or remove them before being able to approach the window at all.
This is one of the best window security options available. But many people don’t like grills because of aesthetic reasons or because they would block the window from opening properly. It could prevent emergency exit in case of a fire as well, so it’s a double edged sword.
Securing windows is especially important if you have a ground-floor apartment. You can check out more tips and recommendations in my ground-floor window security guide.
6. Secure the sliding (glass) door
Securing a sliding door is different because of the way it opens. And there’s the extra concern if it’s also a glass door.
But the good thing is that many security devices are geared towards sliding doors because they’re such a large security weakness and homeowners are aware of this.
Here are some simple and affordable ways to secure a sliding glass door:
Security bar: An adjustable security bar can be easily used to block the door from sliding.
This is a security device that in my humble opinion every homeowner should have because it’s so versatile. It can be used for securing sliding windows, sliding doors as well as regular doors by placing it under the door knob.
It can also be used to barricade a door that opens outward. You can do this by placing the bar perpendicular to the door under the door knob and adjusting it’s length to extend beyond the door, then taping it to the door frame or wall.
On top of that, it can work as an excellent self-defense weapon, similar to a baton or a baseball bat, depending on the length you set it to.
Double bolt lock: A double bolt lock designed for sliding doors will protect them from being jiggled out from position. This is one of the most common ways that burglars break through sliding doors because the in-built latch is not very secure. It will prevent both this attempt and any attempts to manipulate the lock from the outside.
Sliding door barricade: This is a small two-part device that works similarly to a security bar but looks different. One part is installed on the floor next to the sliding door. The other part is placed on it when necessary in order to block the door from sliding.
The difference between a sliding door barricade like the Nightlock and a security bar is mainly in their appearance and mobility. This is a more permanent solution since it has to be secured to the floor in order to work, whereas a security bar can be moved around and used for other doors and windows as needed or used as a self-defense weapon in an emergency.
Also, this type of a barricade is designed for a sliding door that is mounted on the inside track of the door unit, otherwise it won’t be able to block it.
Reinforce the glass: While getting one of the better locking mechanisms that I just mentioned is important, so is reinforcing glass parts of the door. If regular glass panels are used, they can easily be smashed from the outside in order to break in or open the door by pulling the hand through to access the door handle/remove security bar/remove door barricade.
So glass security film is the second ingredient. It’s either that, or replacing the entire glass panels with a stronger variety. Since security film is way more affordable I suggest using that option first, unless you have a specific reason for replacing the glass panels. For example if the current ones are irreparably damaged.
So those are some great ideas you can use for sliding door security. I’ve explained them in more practical details along with more tips in this article. So definitely check it out if you have one of these doors on your balcony, and especially if you have them on ground level where they’re easily accessible to potential burglars.
7. Use a surveillance system
A home surveillance system can consist of one or multiple cameras. Some good places to monitor are:
- all potential entry points (doors and windows)
- rooms inside the apartment like the nursery and the living room
For front door: For observing the front door area, I recommend getting a video doorbell. It’s a small device that will has a camera so you can observe who’s at your front door remotely. It can also send you a remote alert if someone pushes the doorbell or exerts any significant force on the door. You can also use it to speak to the person through your electronic device such as a mobile phone.
You can’t really install a security camera in the hallway without it looking weird as hell and having the neighbors complain. So this is the most convenient camera device for monitoring the apartment front door.
The most highly rated video doorbell that also happens to have these useful features is the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but the price is justified by high quality features:
- Works with Alexa to illuminate and send announcements to Echo devices when your doorbell is pressed or motion is detected allowing you to hear and speak to visitors with two-way talk
- you can hear and speak to visitors through mobile phone, tablet or PC
- 1080 HD infrared night vision camera
- live-view video on demand with WiFi connectivity
- Includes lifetime theft protection (in case it gets stolen, you get a new one for free!)
You can follow this video to install it properly.
For indoor areas: To monitor rooms inside your apartment I recommend the really affordable but well-rated YI 4pc Wireless Indoor Camera. You can get 4 of these for less than $120 and place them all around your apartment for optimal surveillance. This is a wireless camera that has baby crying detection and motion detection technology. If it notices any of those two, it will send you an alert through the app. It also includes night vision and cloud storage service for your recordings.
For outdoor areas and windows: If you want to monitor an outdoor area, for example the balcony or window surroundings, Zmodo wireless camera is an affordable and reliable solution. It’s very similar to YI 4pc and has almost the same features.
The only difference is the installation. Since it is an outdoor camera, you’ll need to drill a hole to pull through the wire in order to plug it in. Or you can pull it through a slightly opened window if the electric outlet is close. Perhaps you could use an extension cord as well and keep it on the balcony. But overall, I recommend keeping the windows and doors locked when you’re away, so drilling a small hole to pull the wire through is the better long-term option.
Use dummies: If you just want to leave an impression that the area is monitored, you can use a dummy camera instead. A dummy camera just has the appearance of a security camera without any monitoring features. It’s also super easy to install as it doesn’t require any wiring, installing apps etc. This can be a good deterrent, as long as the thief is not aware that it’s a dummy of course.
Dummies are also cheaper than the real thing and you could get 3-4 of these for all your windows for $20 or even less. Check out the wide selection of dummy cameras on Amazon if you’re interested in this option.
8. Protect your window AC unit
If you have a window AC unit installed on the window or beside it, it could also draw attention from bad guys. If it creates a gap in the window, the gap can be exploited as well unless you cover them with some material. Metal or plastic flaps can be used for the purpose.
But the air conditioner itself could get snatched if it’s not properly secured. Some additional measures you can take is place the conditioner in an AC cage, also known as “window guard”.
Making sure that the window can’t be locked or broken into from outside is also important, and we’ve addressed the steps for doing that in tip #5.
There are some other useful methods as well. So if you have a window AC unit, check out this in-depth guide to learn more and best security devices to use.
9. Get a home safe
A home safe can have two purposes:
- for keeping a self-defense weapon out of reach of children in order to prevent accidents
- for storing smaller valuables for extra protection in case of a break-in
I think that most people could benefit from having a home safe in their bedroom, especially next to the bed. It would allow you to quickly access a reliable self-defense weapon if you happen to be at home during a break-in. Most safes are big enough to store a small firearm like a handgun, and there are some larger ones that can be used to store a rifle.
If your state does not allow the use of firearm for home protection, I would not take chances though. It’s better to get a non-lethal weapon like a pepper spray, baseball bat or something similar that can be potent in a fight with a more controllable outcome.
Also, storing cash, important documents and jewelry in a safe can make them much safer then leaving them exposed or hidden somewhere. But when you’re buying a home safe, make sure that it can be bolted to the floor or the wall. Because if it’s small and light, it could be stolen along with its contents and opened elsewhere. If you decide to get a small portable safe, you can secure it to the wall or a piece of furniture by using a thick chain or a security cable.
If you’re interested in getting a reliable home safe, check out my top 10 recommendations for the best options from different budget, size and functionality categories.
10. Be a friendly neighbor
Everyone likes a friendly neighbor who’s willing to lend a hand, or at the very least doesn’t straight out avoid you. If you can get to know your neighbors and be pleasant with them, they’re more likely to notice if a stranger is entering or leaving your apartment without you knowing.
After all, if you’re a stranger to them, how could they know if something strange is happening when that’s the norm in your relationship, or lack of it?
Being friendly to your neighbors will clue them into your daily routine to some degree. So they’ll be more likely to suspect that something is wrong if they hear strange movement or people coming and going when you’re typically away from home.
And also, if you’re going on vacation, visiting family etc., you will feel more comfortable informing them about it, so they can keep that in mind as well in case of any strange events that might occur in your absence.
Of course, I wouldn’t rely too much on neighbors as “security guards” of any sort, but it’s always better to have a few protective eyes surrounding your home than people who simply don’t care about your security at all.
11. Don’t share your location and routine online
Sharing location on social media platforms has become a dangerous trend that is exploited by thieves looking for easy targets. It’s become enough to visit the person’s online profile on Facebook, Instagram or any other platform they use and find out where they live, when they’re not at home, when they’ll be back, if they have expensive stuff in their homes, if they have a dog or not etc.
Sharing your information and especially your current location like that makes it super-easy for potential thieves to lay the groundwork for breaking into your apartment. Here are some things you can do to prevent this:
- Don’t share information about your daily routine.
- Don’t share your workplace or occupation. This can signal how much money you have and can be used to figure out your daily routine. If you must, be less direct and just state your education and that you’re employed in a specific field of work, not your actual position.
- Never share your current location and what you’re up to.
- Don’t share photos from a trip UNTIL you’ve returned home.
- Don’t share photos of recent expensive purchases
- Set your social media privacy settings to private, so that only people you’re friends with can see your shares and updates.
Basically, using social media for ego-boosts is poisonous and will come back to haunt you if you’re not careful. We’re being told by marketers that exposing ourselves to the world is a good thing.
This might be true if you’re an Instagram influencer who makes millions of dollars posting about your day-to-day life. But if you’re a regular person like myself, not so much.
More and more people are realizing that there is power in staying anonymous, since your enemies will have a much harder time predicting your next move and catching you by surprise.
Follow the lead of emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. The first prequel movie is named “The Phantom Menace”. Palpatine was the “phantom” since no one knew who he was until he overthrew the entire Republic, even though he was pulling the strings of a galatic civil war. All because he stayed in the shadows.
That’s just a pop culture reference, but it can be applied to real life and politics in general. Knowledge is power, and giving potential thieves knowledge of your whereabouts is never a good move.
12. Lock everything
Don’t forget to lock all exterior doors and windows when going out. If you’ll be away for a really long time, lock the interior doors as well.
13. Invest in good curtains or blinds
Reasons to get thick curtains: You don’t want thieves to know if you’re not at home. Leaving the TV or radio and the lights on can be a good deterrent sometimes, but not always.
If you have ground-floor windows especially, the thief can simply look through and see if you’re home or not. This is why investing in good curtains or blinds that aren’t see through is really important.
Another reason to cover all see-through surfaces of your apartment is to prevent thieves from seeing the items you have inside. A new TV, a fancy gaming computer, a fur coat straight from Alaska can all become objects of desire that eventually lead to a break-in.
To prevent both of these problems, my top recommendation is to hang thick soundproofing curtains on your windows and glass doors. Soundproof curtains are thicker than regular curtains, which is why they’re not see-through.
They also provide sound and thermal insulation. So if you’re struggling with traffic noise and cold/hot weather pouring into your home, this can be a very simple solution.
Curtain recommendation: I have these Nicetown curtains from Amazon on my bedroom window and they do wonders for blocking noise, and I enjoy the privacy and also blackout for improved sleep.
Before purchasing any curtains, make sure to select the right dimensions in order to cover the entire window or door you’re planning on using them for. Also pick the color that matches the style of the room.
Alternative to curtains: What if you’re not a fan of curtains? Or what if you have curtains that are insufficient for full privacy, but you don’t want to replace them? In that case I suggest covering glass surfaces with affordable privacy film. As you can see there are many cool design patterns so you can get really creative with this option.
However, keep in mind that privacy film will also lower the visibility from the inside to the outside. This is why thick curtains are still my number one recommendation for privacy and functionality, but if you don’t mind that side-effect, privacy film can be a great alternative.
Especially since it will not block any sunlight so you can still use different curtains to maintain the level of sunlight you want. Whereas blackout curtains will block most if not all light from coming in when they’re pulled over the glass surface.
14. Program smart bulbs to turn on and off
Thieves are always on the lookout for vacant homes. If your apartment is vacant for too long because you’re on a trip, or the thief knows what time you’re not at home, they could use this opportunity to break-in. But what if you have a programmable light bulb that turns on and off on its own or you can do it from a remote location at any time?
This will leave an impression that you or someone else is at home and awake, which is the perfect deterrent. The Phillips Hue smart bulbs are a great option. They support voice control through Alexa, you can program them in advance and control them remotely through a WiFI connection. You can even prank your neighbors into thinking that you have a haunted apartment by using this technology.
I don’t recommend using this method for easily approachable ground-floor windows since the thief could check out if the apartment is empty or not by looking through it despite of seeing that the light is on.
For ground floor windows I suggest increasing privacy through thick curtains or blinds instead. But if you have an upper floor apartment, a programmable smart bulb can definitely work to your advantage as a good deterrent and a really affordable one at that.
Final Thoughts on Apartment Security
We live in dangerous times, and more homeowners are becoming aware of this fact. Since burglars can easily exploit security measures by learning about them online, it’s important to step up your game. In this article I’ve shared with you the best security methods available.
So even if your potential home invaders are up-to-date, you will still make them struggle and they’ll probably leave your apartment for good once they notice you’ve put effort into securing it. After all, with so many weaker targets around, why would anyone want to pick a fight with you?
If you’re just looking for a small apartment security improvement it’s best to focus on the essentials; improve your locks or add extra barriers, reinforce glass panels on easily approachable glass doors and windows, and install some alarm or surveillance system.
You can follow the links that I’ve shared throughout the article to find the most reliable and affordable devices for successfully completing this project. Hope this helps!