This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Burglaries are often crimes of opportunity, in which thieves try to find the quickest or easiest homes to target. Protecting apartments can be pretty different from securing houses, though.
They usually have fewer potential entry points, but foot traffic right outside the door can make it easier for would-be burglars to enter and leave without drawing attention to themselves. That means you have to handle a unique set of challenges to maintain your safety.
Luckily there are several practical tips for keeping your apartment safe from break-ins. Best of all, in many instances, these suggestions are low-cost and easy to do. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Choose your apartment carefully
If you haven’t moved into your apartment yet, the first step to a more secure unit is selecting the right one. Corner apartments on the ground floor are the most likely to be broken into, as they have two sides of exposure. If you’re off the ground level and you have neighbors on either side, it means you mostly just need to worry about two points of access: your front door and possibly a window if you have a fire escape.
2. Think like a burglar
One of the simplest ways to stop crimes of opportunity is to remove the opportunity. Keep your valuables hidden, away from windows, where they might tempt thieves to target your place. While you might not be able to hide your TV, you can keep your blinds down when you’re away from home during the day, when burglars are more likely to strike.
You can also use books and safes to store valuables like jewelry. That way, if the unfortunate happens and someone does get in, they will struggle to find items worth their time.
3. Install a security system
One of the best deterrents to thieves is a home security system. With one of these, you get door/window sensors, motion detectors and many other security gadgets that can alert you to intruders. If you have professional monitoring, your system will even contact the authorities on your behalf.
DIY home security systems come with all the equipment you need while providing scalability, should you require more equipment in the future. We’ve compiled a list of the best security systems specifically for renters. These devices are best for smaller spaces like apartments and when you don’t want to drill into walls or doorframes. You can find some of the best ones available here.
And when choosing a home security system, make sure to find one that offers cellular and battery backup, in case of internet or power outage.
4. Invest in a security camera
If costs are a concern, even a single security device — such as a security camera under $30 — can give your apartment that extra little measure of security without the price tag attached to many full-fledged home security alternatives. For some would-be burglars, the mere presence of a home security camera in the window could be enough to keep them from choosing your home.
Wireless video doorbells can also be helpful as a minor deterrent and some companies even sell peephole cameras — a particularly useful design for many apartments.
Looking for the best camera on a budget? Start by reading our guide on the best cheap home security cameras of the year. We also have recommendations for the best indoor, outdoor and battery-powered security cameras. Before you install, though, read about the worst places to put a security camera.
And if security cameras aren’t your thing, you can also use a smart lock for extra security.
5. Use the buddy system
If you can, try to befriend someone living in the same apartment complex. Alternatively, if you have a friend or relative nearby, they will work as well. You can work together to check each other’s apartments when the other is away to ensure the apartment is safe. And if they’re your direct neighbor, they can even keep an ear out for unusual activity during the day or when you’re out of town.
6. Secure your windows
When would-be burglars case an apartment, they are searching for an easy means of access. Often, the window might be the first place they test for a vulnerability. You can create another barrier of security by adding window locks.
If your landlord is opposed to you adding locks to your windows, there are plenty of non-permanent and affordable solutions that accomplish the same thing. Window locks also double as safety measures stopping pets or young children from opening windows they shouldn’t when you’re not paying attention.
7. Check your renter’s insurance
Along with implementing these tips, make sure to have renter’s insurance. Many apartments now require it before you can move in. However, if yours does not, buying a policy is simple to do and often surprisingly cheap. You can even package it with your current insurance provider if you have an auto policy.
Renter’s insurance can cover items stolen from your apartment. When selecting a policy, pay close attention to the personal property section. It includes which items the provider covers and the benefit amount. If you have valuables exceeding the benefit, be sure to increase coverage or ask your insurance carrier if there is another policy to supplement it.
Check out these other tips and gadgets to keep your home secure: