Given the high crime rate, many people who live in ground-floor apartments face a special security challenge.
For example, if you live in a two-story home, the first floor is higher and therefore less accessible to burglars (assuming they want to break in).
Related: First Floor Window Security Ideas
But if you live on the ground floor, it’s easy for them to get into the house without even breaking down the door.
FBI reports that 62.8 percent of all 1.1 million burglary offenses committed in 2019 were home break-ins.
And the worst part is that once a burglar gets into your home, they could hurt you and your family members.
Prudent renters use a number of security measures to protect their property, but if you don’t use any, you’re vulnerable.
You could even call 911 and ask the police for help, but that’s only a last resort.
Stay vigilant by following these tips to make sure you’ve everything under control to deter burglars from breaking into your home.
- Assess local crime rate
- Connect with the people around you
- Repair broken fences and overgrown greenery
- Apply for renters’ insurance coverage
- Check twice before you open the door
- Remove obstacles at entrances, entryways, passageways, and exits
- Make sure your key does not have a label
- Cover the windows and sliding doors
- Protect outbuildings
- Update the security features of your doors and windows
- Install alarm systems and smart home systems
- Hide your assets out of sight
- Plant thorn bushes
- Keep the home well lit inside and out
You may also like: 13 Ground Floor Apartment Privacy Ideas
1. Assess local crime rate
Find out about the crime rate in your area.
Do you currently live in a safe neighborhood? Are you near a police station? How many burglaries and robberies occur within the city limits each year?
These are all important questions that need to be addressed before you can make an informed decision about how safe you want your home to be.
Whether or not you should live near a police station is a matter of opinion, but a good starting point is to monitor trends in violence and robbery in your neighborhood.
Tracking crime in your neighborhood is a good way to learn more about neighborhood safety.
For example, you can get crime maps through FBI crime data explorer, AreaVibes, Family Watchdog, CityProtect, etc.
Also, following news in the local media about illegal activities and heinous acts in your neighborhood can help you keep an eye on safety in your area.
2. Connect with the people around you
A neighbor is someone who lives near you, someone who cares about their home and the people who live in it.
The best way to make your ground floor apartment safer is to be a good neighbor.
Talk to your neighbors and introduce yourself to them.
Once you get to know your neighbors, invite them to dinner or to some of the activities you and your family will be doing in your apartment. Organize a book club or plan the local carnival together!
Find out about your neighbors’ lives, their children’s activities, their hobbies, and what they like about their neighborhood.
By sharing some of your interests with them, you can build a relationship with them. If they feel like they are part of a neighborhood watch, they are more likely to help their neighbors when something happens.
When you openly and honestly offer to help them, positive relationships are formed that make your neighbors feel safer, and they may even help you in return.
3. Repair broken fences and overgrown greenery
Homeowners and renters need to be able to mow, prune, weed, and trim the perimeter of their property.
Fences and landscape features that are not maintained properly can easily provide safe havens for unwanted intruders.
Even if shrubs at the front or back of your ground-floor apartment protect it from view, they can still provide access to the roof.
Lush plantings around your apartment, especially in front of entrances, can be harmful if they are meant to protect the building from view.
If a person ducks behind shrubs, they can still reach a door and walk to another part of the apartment that they overlooked or otherwise could not reach.
Insect infestation and trip hazards are also common issues on sidewalks when hedges, trees and bushes are allowed to grow unchecked all around a building.
4. Apply for renters’ insurance coverage
Theft, vandalism or fire can occur at any time and without warning. Even if you’ve never had a claim, the cost of interim relocation and repairs can be significant.
Having financial protection in place in case disaster strikes or a family member is injured helps minimize the burden of uninsured losses. It’s also good to know that your landlord’s insurance won’t cover things you own in your apartment.
Unlike homeowners insurance that covers the cost of reconstructing structures and dwellings, renters insurance will pay for stolen or damaged personal belongings, as well as living expenses, if your apartment is temporarily uninhabitable due to a burglary or storm.
In the event a fire destroys your apartment and its contents, renters insurance may cover the cost of housing you in another apartment while repairs are made by the landlord.
According to MoneyGeek, the average cost of basic and comprehensive renters insurance, which covers everything from the contents of your refrigerator to your bicycle, is currently $13 to $14 per month.
If your possessions are still in good condition and don’t need many repairs, homeowners insurance may not be worth it. However, in the event of accidental or intentional destruction, it’s definitely a good idea to purchase property damage insurance from an insurance provider of your choice.
5. Check twice before you open the door
Of course, there are so many things you can do to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.
There are good locks for windows and doors, and you should keep an eye out for suspicious activity around your home or in the neighborhood.
But sometimes even these precautions aren’t enough to keep burglars out or prevent a tenant from becoming prey.
Since most of us only open the door to actual visitors and acquaintances like family members or friends, criminals are more likely to target the places where you let people in.
A door peephole may not be your last line of defense. But it’s quite effective in identifying bad guys faster. An alternative is a video doorbell with a built-in camera that sends a live video feed to a central security system or to your phone whenever someone rings the doorbell.
Another important step in preventing unwanted incidents is to create a mental map of the interior of your home. Consider where the most valuable items are kept, where potential thieves are likely to be, and where you’ve difficulty seeing people entering the home.
If possible, keep valuables in inconspicuous places rather than obvious ones that a burglar would have difficulty finding or robbing.
6. Remove obstacles at entrances, entryways, passageways, and exits
In cities around the world, communal/common areas are designated as shared spaces used exclusively by a building’s tenants.
One of the reasons for this is that they serve as escape routes in emergencies. These include stairwells, hallways, corridors, garages and basements.
A building needs entryways and other shared open spaces that lead out to the street. This is also one of the best ways to ensure that a building has adequate air circulation.
Although fire doors and exits are usually closed when not in use, they should not be blocked with bins, boxes and cartons.
Also, volatile chemicals such as paints, varnishes, turpentine or battery acid should not be stored in common areas of the building.
Experts also recommend keeping rugs, curtains, chairs, plastic flowers, fabrics and other flammable materials in a safe place, ideally outdoors where there is good ventilation.
It may also be advisable to install a fire alarm system in the lobby to warn building occupants.
7. Make sure your key does not have a label
Losing a key that has no marking makes it difficult to find.
However, if you think of the risk that it could fall into the hands of a crook and it has a mark on it, you would want to remove it, wouldn’t you?
Many people forget that they have a spare key, and they’ll leave it laying in the garden or forget it in the convenience store where they stopped for a coffee with a friend after work.
A key fob or tag with an apartment number on it is easy for anyone to recognize.
In this case, it is not safe if someone else found and wandered off with them.
Opt for a simple or plain key that is not obvious that it is for your apartment.
8. Cover the windows and sliding doors
Sill treatments and decorative window coverings can also contribute to home security.
They serve to protect against a variety of problems.
From curtains and blinds to valances and drapes, functional window coverings not only serve a purpose, but can also contribute to aesthetics.
By covering the windows and glass doors, you can make it difficult for outsiders to peek in.
Blinds that are angled away from the window at different angles or have horizontal slats can also provide good protection for your indoor activities and prevent you from being seen.
See Also: 13 Inspiring Indoor Balcony Ideas
UV blockers can better protect furniture and flooring in your home from fading, and panels can keep the interior cool during the hot months.
Breathable curtains can also be very effective at providing shade in the summer while allowing light to pass through.
9. Protect outbuildings
Gated compounds and shared gardens often have communal garages, storerooms, sheds or other buildings.
These must be considered vulnerable areas that can be accessed from the outside.
Not only can fires pose a serious threat at night, but so can break-ins and vandalism.
Covered, dark spaces are ideal for criminals to wait and ambush their victims. Open garages and sheds just invite criminals to use them as convenient storage areas for stolen goods.
Every household should have a security plan in place for these outbuildings, as well as for garden sheds, tool sheds and other detached or out-of-the-way spaces.
Unfenced properties should always be locked, the gate key kept in a separate place, and doors and windows kept closed at night.
Your apartment block should have a security guard, a janitor or a caretaker, or a night watchman (depending on the neighborhood) who can regularly patrol around bike racks, trash cans, and other outbuildings and check video surveillance.
10. Update the security features of your doors and windows
Simply locking doors and windows is no guarantee of your home’s security, especially if you live in a ground-floor apartment.
If a thief simply kicks in or pushes open your door, they will get right into your living room.
Additional security measures at entrances and windows provide a greater sense of security.
Chain locks, key codes and remote unlocking protection are valuable in preventing unwanted intruders from getting past you. These systems do require some effort, but the extra work is worth it.
Aside from door reinforcement locks, window guards give you plenty of time to prepare for and respond to a break-in, confront the criminal, alert security or emergency services.
Hire a professional locksmith to install security hardware such as deadbolts or security bars on your doors and windows.
The cost of installing these additional burglar deterrents depends on the locks you choose and the installation time required.
If you have just moved in, you should ask your landlord to change the locks so that the spare keys to which the previous tenants have access are not used in your apartment.
11. Install alarm systems and smart home systems
Besides all the reasons you should invest in some sort of home surveillance system, we can not stress enough the importance of installing an alarm and smart home system.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought whole new conveniences to our daily lives.
With the ability to remotely control your cameras, window sensors, door locks, light switches, glass break detectors and other security devices, you can significantly upgrade the level of security in your residence.
By setting up a home automation hub with various devices and a Wi-Fi network, the functions, features and monitoring tools of your smart home device become almost limitless.
Some state-of-the-art free home security services with advanced protection go a step further by giving you the added option of integrating a video doorbell, motion-activated cameras, intelligent digital door locks, keyless entry and a two-way video intercom.
These home security systems also include fire and smoke detectors, flood sensors, panic buttons, smart energy switches and a number of other components that can be combined.
You no longer have to stay in the house or on site to access a separate system.
And when you go away for the weekend, you can monitor your home from your smartphones and tablets.
12. Hide your assets out of sight
No matter how many high-tech locks you have, sometimes thieves can take advantage of a small weakness in your home’s protection and still break open a window or door and get in.
Ideally, a ground floor apartment should be the most protected apartment in the building, as it is easily accessible and puts residents at risk in the event of an invasion.
A thief can get in and out of your house easily if they want to without even leaving a trace of their presence.
While you can not protect yourself against everything, you can take steps to keep your jewelry, money, gold and other precious items safe.
It is highly recommended that you consider the location of your valuables and make them more difficult to be found by keeping them in a secret hiding place.
Find a place that allows you to hide your most prized possessions in plain sight, and preferably behind a wall or mantel clock, inside a false bottom drawer, in the closet or in a slit tennis ball.
Used paint cans, tubular legs of ironing boards, and hollowed out books are just a few ideas that would make your belongings less noticeable if a burglar can gain access to the main floor where your home is.
13. Plant thorn bushes
Natural lines of defense were used to protect homes long before the advent of modern surveillance, access control, and intrusion detection.
The humble thorn bush provides an inexpensive and effective deterrent to intruders.
Speed is critical to a successful break-in.
It may seem like a silly idea to line your fence with such needle-like plants that can cause injury or even attract the neighbors’ cats, but keep in mind that most of these intruders will be on foot, and if they make it over the plant barrier, you have an excellent chance of catching them before they get much farther.
Defensive plants that are non-invasive and have thorns, such as cactus, crown of thorns, hawthorn and yucca, can be used in a decorative way to enhance the appearance of your home.
Keep in mind that location, garden, space, climate and other local conditions play an important role in choosing the most obnoxious and prickly of these plants.
Children and pets can also put themselves in danger if they get too close to these hardy plants.
You should take precautions by erecting a fence around these plants, capping or planting thornless versions of them, or simply keeping all pets and kids away from the thorny bushes.
14. Keep the home well lit inside and out
Darkness is the intruder’s best friend.
Shadows and hidden corners provide a perfect opportunity to slip into an apartment unnoticed, and it is no coincidence that most home invasions occur in the early hours of the morning.
Enclosed spaces and dark alleys are the perfect hiding places for burglars, making it very difficult to ward them off.
It is common knowledge that good lighting helps people feel safer in their homes.
Glowing light within the apartment can make it unnecessary for burglars to constantly check the windows, thereby reducing the likelihood that a burglar will enter.
Closed blinds and curtains, as well as lights that are on, indicate that someone is home and is not empty.
However, outdoor lighting is especially important to give you a good view of visitors or burglars at night.
Criminals usually avoid well-lit areas because there are fewer places to hide.
Therefore, night vision lighting should be your first line of defense, as crimes tend to go down during evening hours.
Escape routes that are brightly illuminated can also be seen from the inside and will discourage a potential robber from scouting the area.
As you can see, it’s relatively easy to take steps to make your ground floor apartment or home safer.
Implementing just a few of the suggestions outlined above will go a long way in helping you feel better about the safety and security of your home.
The level of security we want for our home often depends on several factors, including the layout and location of our property, as well as our budget and time constraints.
In most cases, we cannot completely eliminate the threat of burglary or theft, but we can make it more difficult for intruders to enter our home and deter them from attacking our home with the right precautions.
Don’t live in fear, but be smart and try to make your home as safe as possible.
More often than not, you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to where your apartment is situated.
Before you move in, it’s a good idea to get an overview of the area so you know what precautions are wise to take. We hope this post gives you the peace of mind you deserve.