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How best to secure my ground floor apartment?
January 21, 2005 9:34 PM   Subscribe

I live in a sorta gritty urban area in a ground-floor apartment that has semi-burglar-accessible windows that have no bars or gates. (The landlord is a cheap slum-owning pig, no help.) What should I install myself for serious home security that'll still let me enjoy a nice breeze and also peace of mind and body? Alarms? Internal bars? Any fave products? Money is almost no object, but I'd really rather not have to use a hammer drill on the exterior brick. (Question anonymous for ParanoiaFilter because my name is in my profile and also in the phone book with my address, and I'm a terribly sensible gal.)
posted by anonymous to Technology (13 answers total)
 
I lived in a lot of crappy parts of town. It cost me some small appliances, because that's all I had worth taking. My hearfelt advice is, move. The extra rent money will be less than that mountain bike cost. One incident and you will never be able to trust any of your neighbors, and that's no way to live.
If you really can't move, I'd go for bars on the outside. It's a visible deterrent that will make your casual burglar look elsewhere.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:59 PM on January 21, 2005


I'd recommend internal bars with a quick release mechanism that can be opened from the inside. I would NEVER bolt on external bars to a window. I'm nervous enough about fire, blocked exits, etc. that I'd want to be able to quickly and easily move the bars in case of an emergency. This may also be required by your city's fire codes.

I was just talking to a security guy tonight (we're months away from moving into a new townhouse in a gentrifying but not totally stable neighbourhood) and he said that internal bars in basement windows are a pretty good deterrant.
posted by maudlin at 10:17 PM on January 21, 2005


Short of placing NRA and Semper Fi stickers on all your windows, I would second atchafalaya's suggestion. If "money is almost no object," then it's worth moving into a second-story apartment or changing locales altogether. I also lived in a basement apartment (for two years) and ended up filing burglary reports on three different occasions.
posted by Token Meme at 10:21 PM on January 21, 2005


For serious security, I'd just go with a keyed set of folding window gates. Interior bars are best suited for child safety, IMO. I tend to overdo things anyway. Everyone in NYC who I know with gates like these, these, and these is very happy with them. Just unlock and slide them open when you don't want them there. Unless you object to gates for philosophic or visual reasons, I don't see why not. They might not be so easy to find.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 12:11 AM on January 22, 2005


Get to know your neighbors. How effective that is depends on who you are, who your neighbors are, the structure of the neighborhood, and many other factors. The bars with a quick release are also a good suggestion.
posted by rdr at 1:03 AM on January 22, 2005


Short of placing NRA and Semper Fi stickers on all your windows, I would second atchafalaya's suggestion. If "money is almost no object," then it's worth moving into a second-story apartment or changing locales altogether. I also lived in a basement apartment (for two years) and ended up filing burglary reports on three different occasions.

that's not good advice, you'll have people wanting to break into the place looking for guns.

Just screw your windows shut so they only open about 5 or 6"s, then you can have it open whenever you want, but no one can break in without breaking the glass.

if someone wants to break into your basement apartment bad enough (or any apartment), they will. Doors can be pried or kicked in. Don't keep expensive looking stuff around your windows. this should all be pretty basic knowledge, but I guess we all come from different backgrounds.
posted by getupandgo at 6:38 AM on January 22, 2005


Years ago, living in a semi-basement apartment with ground-level windows in a rough part of town, we simply tacked some wire mesh to the inside of the window frames. It was no real physical defence; a firm tug was enough to remove it. It worked, however, as a visual deterent. We were never broken into in six years, while the neighbors place, near enough identical to ours, was - several times.
posted by normy at 7:13 AM on January 22, 2005


I've had lots of trouble with my backyard shed (Memphis midtown). The police insist to me that the best solution is a really big dog - because electrified barbed wire is illegal. Per the bars, make sure they are quick release - we have several stories every summer about entire families that die in house fires becase of external bars.
posted by jmgorman at 7:54 AM on January 22, 2005


second the "move" idea.. if nothing else to a different story. I used to live on a 1st floor apt. kinda tucked in the corner and got robbed 3 times, and evidently so did several other neighbors. the top floor seemed safer though. after my lease came up I moved to a suburb, ended up paying only a little more (it actually was less than I expected - cost for utilities actually went way down) and now have more room and more peace of mind.

jmgorman, where in midtown? I used to live near the UofM and was looking to get back into that area..
posted by mrg at 12:21 PM on January 22, 2005


Get a dog, but only if you can properly care for it. And a real one, not some yapping pygmy. There are large breeds which can be very gentle, even with strangers, provided they aren't breaking in - you don't need a Rottweiler or Doberman to ward off robbers. It's strictly a personal opinion here, but Labs are great for this - big enough and loud as hell when they want to be, but total sweethearts.

Just understand that she's a perimeter alarm (at best) and not your personal defense system. When some tweaked asshole is on your front porch at 4AM, she barks because it's your job to go kick his ass and make him go away and NOT because she wants to be let out and do it herself.

If all you're worried about is random shitheads looking for an easy mark, a nice big dog does wonders. They'll go looking somewhere else.
posted by trondant at 1:41 AM on January 23, 2005


I'm no dog expert, but keeping a big dog in an (I'm assuming) small apartment doesn't seem like the most fun. For you or the dog.
posted by SoftRain at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2005


I'm not any sort of expert either, and I realize this one is off the front page, but how much time you can devote to taking the animal out and letting it exercise is likely more important than your square footage. If you are working two jobs and live in a shoebox, it might not be such a hot idea though.
posted by trondant at 11:03 PM on January 23, 2005


"(Question anonymous for ParanoiaFilter because my name is in my profile and also in the phone book with my address, and I'm a terribly sensible gal.)"

I don't think "sensible" is the word I would have used...
posted by Irontom at 9:23 AM on January 25, 2005


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