Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

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JeeperCreeper
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Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by JeeperCreeper » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:15 pm

So here's the rundown and I need advice. My apartment complex recently had some car break-ins at the entrance to the complex (my apartment is at the back, bordering 2 farmers fields). The cars were unlocked so they were easy targets (grab and go, pretty typical). However, over the months we've had some "unscrupulous" characters move in and the town I live in is pretty impoverished (drug dealers and some people with warrants live in the complex are removed at times). Moving is not an option for another year.

Here's what I'm thinking:
-continue to lock all doors and windows (car and apartment)
-continue to leave random lights and TV on if I'm gone (I live alone, so I need to simulate activity)
-continue to not trust the manager nor maintenance workers (they change/get fired every other month)

Things to do:
-install a "beware of pit bull sign" or "warning: aggressive pit bull" sign on my back deck door and maybe front door (I don't have a dog, but that seems most plausible)
-get a baby-monitor-wifi-camera-motion-sensor-thing that alerts my phone and shows a video if there is motion. These are like $50 on amazon. Luckily, I'm only ever 5 minutes from my apartment in class if something goes wrong.


Any other ideas?? Are my ideas dumb??
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by JeeperCreeper » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:18 pm

P.S... Any advice on cheap cameras, I'm game... obviously can't be permanent... hidden is always good if indoors, I guess
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by modustollens » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:35 pm

I was using a program called 'sentry vision'. It used my old laptop's built in camera. It made it motion sensitive. It would also take pictures whenever it was activated then immediately email me those pictures so I could see and have a record of what triggered the camera. Other programs I tested did hot have this 'send-picture-offsight' feature. If someone broke in they would likely steal the laptop and its security pictures; so, I think automatic, off-site transmission of the photos taken when motion triggers a picture is an essential feature.

Unfortunately, that program has stopped working and I have yet to find a replacement (it was a free program too and always worked well, until it stopped).

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by ManInBlack316 » Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:44 pm

https://www.amazon.com/GE-Personal-Secu ... oor+alarms

Quick and easy addition. Makes a lot of noise when it goes off.

I believe there is some device or something that simulates a dog barking to give more credence to your pitbull sign.

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Asymetryczna » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:02 pm

Review the rights of tenants. Landlord must provide reasonable notice to enter or allow entry.
Otherwise, your thinking is right.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by JeeperCreeper » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:17 pm

Thanks everyone, those are all good ideas I'm gonna look at.
Asymetryczna wrote:Review the rights of tenants. Landlord must provide reasonable notice to enter or allow entry.
Otherwise, your thinking is right.
Yes, they can't enter. Doesn't mean they won't. Also, as a part of my lease, they must be notified if I am gone from my apartment for more than a week or two or they will consider it abandoned (even if I pay rent... seems shady). So basically, I don't let them know because I feel like that basically says, "hey, this dude is gone for 2 weeks on a field assignment, let's take his stuff"
They see me trollin', they hatin'.... keyboardin' tryna catch me typin' dirty
Halfapint wrote:There are some exceptions like myself and jeepercreeper.... but we are the forum asshats. We protect our positions with gusto
zero11010 wrote:The girlfriend is a good shot with a 10/22.
Her secondary offense will be nagging.

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by modustollens » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:15 pm

JeeperCreeper wrote: Also, as a part of my lease, they must be notified if I am gone from my apartment for more than a week or two or they will consider it abandoned (even if I pay rent... seems shady). So basically, I don't let them know because I feel like that basically says, "hey, this dude is gone for 2 weeks on a field assignment, let's take his stuff"
Never heard of that before. But each jurisdiction has its own laws; in Canada, Landlord/Tenant laws are provincial and therefore vary from province to province.

One thing that I have noticed though is that all the legal codes I have read specify that certain things are not permitted in leases. For example: some leases say 'no pets.' But if you look at the law, one of the statutes says "no pet provisions are void." This means that a landlord cannot evict a tenant because of a pet. A tenant could, at the time of signing the lease, say I don't have a pet; then on day one move in with a pet. The landlord would not be able to cancel the lease based upon the lease saying 'no pets' because that is an illegal lease condition.

Leases cannot have clauses which are contrary to what is in the law; though many do if only for the reason that people don't read the law.

So, this 'abandonment' clause might be illegal; or, there could in fact be in the law a statute requiring you to give such notice and your lease just makes that explicit; or the law could be silent on this clause. Either way, it is prudent to read the law for yourself. And whenever a landlord says 'according to the landlord/tenant act or law...' Always ask which clause that is (for they like to make up 'laws' without ever having read the actual document). "Abandonment" might be formally defined at the start of the law (and almost all laws start with formal, stipulative definitions for the purpose of the law), and it may specify conditions that do not correspond to your lease's statements. I usually find that 'lay' people, so to speak, do not understand how stipulative definitions work in the context of legal argument, and so I never trust what someone, especially a landlord, says without reading the documents for myself.

I always make a video tape of the place empty before I move in - pretty much every landlord thinks the place should be given a full-make over whenever I move out due to all the 'damage' I caused. We go to court. The court sees my videos. The landlord looks like an ass. In Canada we must pay a 'damage deposit' up front in some jurisdictions. The law states this is not for 'normal wear and tear.' But every landlord always finds 'damage' and claims that money (which can be anything from 1/2 to a full month's rent). To fight that in the tenancy court (a special court for dealing with these disputes), is expensive and time consuming. And the landlord knows this. So, a lot of people get screwed out of this money. I myself always fail to pay the last month's rent and forfeit the 'deposit' in lieu of rent to reverse this power imbalance (for the deposit is not put into an escrow account). I just got tired of the stupid games.

Pretty much every landlord thinks I am the maintenance man too. Furnace filter is dusty and clogged. 'Oh, just go to the hardware store and get a new one, I'll pay for it.' Yea, the filter he means, not my labour - though I got paid for that at court once too - charged him $200 for an hour of labour. That landlord never asked me to fix anything again (and we know he asked me to do it because he thought he would get free labour).

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by teotwaki » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:34 am

Sentry Vision s/w V3.2 http://download.cnet.com/Sentry-Vision/ ... 76371.html

What's new in version 3.2

Lockup detection
Fixed time stamp
Minor bug fixes
Better process management



Demo of V 3.0

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by JackBauer » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:51 pm

Consider apartment insurance. A year is very cheap. Make sure you review rider and confirm whats covered. Also discuss out of the ordinary detail with insurance agent.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Close_enough » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:29 pm

JackBauer wrote:Consider apartment insurance. A year is very cheap. Make sure you review rider and confirm whats covered. Also discuss out of the ordinary detail with insurance agent.
QFT. My apartment insurance ran about half of my car insurance. It was a general blanket policy that covered theft, fire, etc. to my personal belongings. It didn't cover anything that was an integral part of the building (i.e. water heaters, doors, windows, cabinets, etc). The landlord was on the hook for covering those.

Now, physically hardening an apartment that you don't own can be a little tricky. The normal measures of pin locks, deadbolts, heavy duty strike plates, Charley bars. etc. all require drilling into the structure. IME, apartment complexes with high staff turnover are very reticent about granting permission for any modifications. And, their paperwork tends to be an unholy mess.

My .02 is adhesive mounted (i.e. 3M command) window and door sensors or motion activated alarms, door jammer type bars, and internet connected motion activated cameras for detection. Move all sensitive paperwork (deeds, SS card, insurance) to a safe deposit box, and encrypt anything sensitive on your computer.

If there's a break in, you're only real chance of getting things back is going to be the uploaded pictures. You can expect the alarm system to get stolen along with everything else.

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Asymetryczna » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:43 pm

Yeah, sorry. I just assumed you had renter's insurance so I didn't bring it up.

Insure it.
Lock it up.
Hide it.
Put a light on it.
Put a guard on it.

All passive measures. All that can be discussed here.

As long as nothing is damaged or stolen it is hard to make a case for anything more. Cheap, one-time tape can be used to secure all entry points so that at least you know if the seal has been broken. They do not have to be obvious.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by teotwaki » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:47 pm

FWIW I'll list a few things that are in the Capt. Obvious realm but might be overlooked.

Continue the heightened awareness! Be vigilant. Take notes and pictures as memory can be faulty.
Don't leave anything of value in the car, especially sitting openly on the seat or dash.
When carrying valuable items to and from the car disguise them.
Take pics and videos of your valuables and list serial numbers on your receipts.
Try to see if any worthwhile neighbors might band together to provide overwatch
Befriend any cops that cover your apartments on their beat and may be keeping an eye on the low-lifes.
Anticipate the thieves by thinking like one. Is my schedule predictable? Do my automated lights follow a fixed pattern? Etc.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Anianna » Tue Jun 21, 2016 4:08 pm

Not sure what kind of budget you are looking at, but it might be worth adding a smart light switch or two and a hub. We have Lutron smart switches (keep in mind that they require a dimmable light bulb like these) and a Wink Hub. There are other hubs and possibly better ones. We wanted a hub that could talk to the Amazon Echo and, when we bought it, the Wink was one of the few with that capability, but the Wink was a big hassle to update. Other than updates, it works great. We have an app with the hub that controls the lights remotely. That way, if you are away, you can turn your lights on or off at various times to simulate activity. The switches run about $40 each at Home Depot.

A cheaper option might be lights on a timer, though that might be obvious to potential thieves if the same lights are coming on at exactly the same time every day.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Wraith6761 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:27 pm

For when you're actually at home, one of those rubber door stoppers you can find for a couple bucks at Wal-mart (or a slightly more expensive one that acts as an alarm as well)...assuming you have carpet at the doorway, add a small strip of the hook side of velcro (stops it from being slid back by pure force), put it just inside the doorway next to the door when you go to bed, and that door is not gonna open til you want it to (or until it's physically removed by something pretty damn big/powerful). Even on hardwood floors, it's hard to open (and if you "accidentally" sand a small divot into the floor, it won't move at all til you want it to). You could even leave one at the back door (assuming it's not a sliding door) when you're out and about.

As for when you're gone, I'd agree with the above info on small motion-detecting cameras and the automated lights...I know they make some timer systems for outdoor Christmas lights that have a 'random' setting on them to prevent people from knowing that the lights are just on a timer, I can't think of a reason why that wouldn't work inside just as well.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by SCBrian » Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:07 pm

teotwaki wrote:FWIW I'll list a few things that are in the Capt. Obvious realm but might be overlooked.


Take pics and videos of your valuables and list serial numbers on your receipts.
This, even if the video is just a walk through of each room. Tough to figure out what's missing, when you cant remember... :)
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Kelvar » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:54 pm

I just wanted to say that there's some good advice in this thread, by multiple people. Well done, folks. 8-)
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Close_enough » Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:55 pm

Wraith6761 wrote:For when you're actually at home, one of those rubber door stoppers you can find for a couple bucks at Wal-mart .
Those cheap rubber ones are fairly easy to get by. A hard shove to the door will usually just flatten it, and allow the door to pass over it. You're better off with something intended for security. There are a lot of products intended to reinforce hotel/motel doors that are worth a look

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by grennels » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:08 pm

get one of those BIG rawhide chewbones. Have a friend with a big dog let Fido chew on it for a while.
Recover from friend and leave outside the back door. Do another for the front door.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:52 pm

I'm gonna agree with everything posted and welcome you to the 21st Century:

https://www.thetileapp.com/buynow?defau ... lsrc=aw.ds

http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/categ ... rackers.do
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Aikibiker » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:53 am

Have you changed out your locks?

How about adding longer (2.5" or greater) screws to you door frame so that the frame is actually joined to the vertical frame members of the apartment and harder to kick in? The last time I kicked down a door (gaining entry to a locked hotel room for a medical emergency) the door and lock held up fine, but the door frame basically exploded into splinters, and my kicks are not really anything special. The lock work in the door was secured to the frame with very short screws and the frame was attached with brad nails, so even though it was a good solid door, the bits attaching it to the building were almost cosmetic.

Think you could add some form of door jamb armor? You can also get less high speed security strike plates and reinforcements for your doors at any hardware store.

What is the back door like? Sliding glass door? Those suck, but you could put some Chicago screw barrels into the metal frame then hang plywood with pre-drilled holes onto the rod and secure with bolts. You could even use spade head screws so you do not need tools. The Chicago barrels should let you open and close the back door while in place. Do it right and the wood will keep the sliding door from opening, but be removed quickly and easily.

Does your back porch have any sort of railing? You could hang window boxes on the inside for your cactus collection. That will make it harder for someone to just hop over the rail. Secure the window boxes to the rail with something like hose clamps or zipties so they can't just be dumped off.
Last edited by Aikibiker on Fri Jun 24, 2016 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Aikibiker » Fri Jun 24, 2016 3:10 am

You could also put security film on your windows.

https://www.amazon.com/S4MC-Window-Secu ... G10EW9ZFGC

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Close_enough » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:01 pm

Aikibiker wrote:Have you changed out your locks?

How about adding longer (2.5" or greater) screws to you door frame so that the frame is actually joined to the vertical frame members of the apartment and harder to kick in? The last time I kicked down a door (gaining entry to a locked hotel room for a medical emergency) the door and lock held up fine..
All of those are prudent measures, and I have them installed in my own house. But, the OP lives in a rented apartment. He's probably prohibited from driving in picture hanging nails let alone driving structural screws into the building frame. It's the reason I suggested door jammer bars and adhesive mounted alarms.

EDIT: The unpleasant flora idea isn't a bad one, and would make entry over/through them an unpleasant prospect. It's also considerably more socially acceptable then nail boards or other anti-access devises. Though, it would certainly be amusing to see an aspiring thief encountering a patio filled with Cheval de Frise frames.

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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by Wraith6761 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:17 am

Close_enough wrote:
Wraith6761 wrote:For when you're actually at home, one of those rubber door stoppers you can find for a couple bucks at Wal-mart .
Those cheap rubber ones are fairly easy to get by. A hard shove to the door will usually just flatten it, and allow the door to pass over it. You're better off with something intended for security. There are a lot of products intended to reinforce hotel/motel doors that are worth a look
You're flattening a solid 2" rubber wedge with a hard shove? Or are you talking about the ones that are hollow and don't have a bottom on them? I think we're talking about two different products here...
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Re: Thief-proofing My Apartment (kinda)

Post by JeeperCreeper » Sat Jun 25, 2016 1:15 am

I am way behind the times... thanks guys, I'm gonna do some reading on all this and get back to y'all. Technology plus cacti seem to be the ticket...
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Her secondary offense will be nagging.

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