If a burglary occurs in your apartment building, even if it didn’t happen to you personally, it can leave you feeling vulnerable. You likely thought you moved into a safe neighborhood and so this burglary has you rethinking your decision to move there.
You also assume that, since most of your neighbors are paying approximately the same rent you are, they’re likely of a similar income bracket. You never considered yourself in an income bracket that burglars targeted, but clearly, you are. Just because the burglary didn’t occur in your unit doesn’t mean you can’t take precautions and ask questions.
Not sure where to start? Here’s what you should do after there’s been a burglary in your building.
1. Ask your landlord to enhance building security.
Is there a gate one must get through to enter your building? If not, perhaps you and your neighbors can ask your landlord to put one up. If there is a lobby, the landlord might be willing to hire a security guard, at least for the evenings. If they aren’t, then perhaps insist on installing a type of lock that self-locks whenever someone closes the lobby door. Ask your landlord to install security cameras around the property, if that hasn’t already been done. It’s a part of your landlord’s job to keep you safe. One of your rights as a tenant is to live in a place where your belongings (and you yourself) are safe.
2. Determine how the burglars got in.
Keep in mind that most of the units in your building have the same layout, meaning if a burglar knows their way around one apartment, they knows their way around all of them—including yours. Find out exactly how the burglar broke in. Was it through a bathroom window? The balcony? The guestroom window? Evaluate this area of your apartment and consider ways to fortify it. Add a metal rod to the runner on the sliding glass balcony door, put bars over the bathroom window or install an alarm on the guest room window.
3. Find at what day and what time it happened.
Determining what day and time this burglary occurred will give you some insight into when criminals operate in your neighborhood. At the very least, it will tell you when your building appears the most vulnerable. Once you find out at what time the burglary occurred, make sure you leave lights and the radio on any time you leave your apartment during that time. Be especially cautious of suspicious activity during that time, too.
4. Have a building meeting.
Call for a building meeting. In this meeting, you and the other tenants can discuss protocol for dealing with strangers or suspicious activity around the building. Reinforce the fact that nobody should let anyone into the building who they do not personally know. A burglar can easily discover information about you, and use it to convince one of your neighbors they know you.
5. Ensure the building locks are changed.
If the victim had a copy of the building key in their apartment, the burglar may have stolen it to make a copy. In other words, the burglar may have plans of coming back and attacking another unit. Ask that your landlord change the locks to the building to prevent this from happening.
6. Observe the victim’s habits.
Observe some of the victim’s habits to find out what made them vulnerable. Do they do a lot of online shopping and have packages delivered straight to their door from suspicious companies? Do they make phone calls on their balcony, giving away potentially sensitive information? Learn from this person’s mistakes.
7. Ask to see any available surveillance footage.
If your landlord did have surveillance cameras set up during the break-in, ask to see the footage. You may be able to identify the burglar, or point out someone you noticed behaving suspiciously around the building.
8. Ask for a full building inspection.
Ask that your landlord perform a full building inspection. They should check to see if the burglar broke any locks, disabled any alarms, smashed any lights or tampered with any item that helps keep the building safe.
Don’t think that just because a burglar attacked another unit in your building that they’re totally done. You still have due diligence to do after a burglary of another unit.