Apartment break-in opportunists? Talk me down.
May 1, 2015 12:40 AM   Subscribe

Am I wrong about feeling like my apartment building's being cased for a burglary, and what can I do about it?

A truck pulled in my apartment's lot while I was pulling out after dark and carefully backed up to the building's main door. I turned around and drove back in and they burned rubber taking off for the apartment lot next door and parked while keeping their engine on.

I didn't have time to hang around to see what they did next but I did call it in just in case. This on a busy street that is fairly well lit. I've never before felt unsafe in the few months I've lived here, but this seemed suspicious to me and now I'm a bit freaked out. I work third shift and sometimes my roommate is not home at night either.

It seems a little extreme to try to get out of my lease because of this or try to talk management into switching me over to a different place, but it's really obvious when I'm leaving for work at the same time every day because it is right near the road -- even though I leave the lights on. Am I overreacting? Is there anything I can do to deter would-be-burglars in a leased flat?
posted by Keysig to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have any prophylactic suggestions, but it might give you some piece of mind to get renter's insurance. It should cover you if there is a burglary.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 12:46 AM on May 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

Wrong address and just people who drive like maniacs for no reason other than enjoying it?
posted by AnnaRat at 2:10 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Forgot to add that the spot they backed into is diagonally lined -- no parking there unless you're moving in or out (and that only just recently I realized that my big TV is really visible to the parking lot area through the blinds unless you turn them backwards which seems relevant?).
posted by Keysig at 2:15 AM on May 1, 2015

How busy of a street is this place on? Quiet? Relatively busy? How weird are the average people driving and walking around in the area?

I've lived in several areas with a respectable population density of tweakers, hobos, and weirdos even though they were relatively nice neighborhoods(college neighborhoods, "cool" neighborhoods, not like upscale shit or anything but not The Bad Part Of Town). This kind of weird shit would be totally normal there.

I've also lived in totally residential neighborhoods where this would fall totally in to left field WTF territory. I think that's pretty critical.

That said, i'm pissed off that i didn't have renters insurance when i got robbed. It's CHEAP. CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. Like $120 a year. Really wish i had known it was that cheap before my place got fucking sacked.
posted by emptythought at 2:23 AM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: To answer about the type of area, it's residential. It's not a cool area/college-type, not upscale in any way, but this is totally not normal.

Also, getting renter's insurance ASAP! Thanks for the tip.
posted by Keysig at 3:24 AM on May 1, 2015

It also may have been a tenant who owes rent getting out of dodge.
posted by InkaLomax at 3:49 AM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, if this just happened last night it could be folks who have a move in date of May 1 looking to stash their truck full of stuff until they can actually get in to their new place. The frantic flight could have been a "Shit, Johnny you can't park here and there's a tenant who will call the cops and our stuff will be towed! Cheese it!"

May 1 and June 1 tend to be silly season for college kids with rented trucks as they try to move into their summer sublets (thus explaining why they are where they are not normally).

Still, renter's insurance never hurt anyone.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 AM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

recently I realized that my big TV is really visible to the parking lot area

Everyone has a big TV these days and big stuff is hard to steal. Game consoles, video games , DVDs, small electronics, expensive jewelry--stuff that can fit in a pillowcase and be sold secondhand really easily, those are the things that get stolen.

Get renter's insurance today. Renter's insurance is the best. Covers your stuff if it gets stolen, covers you if you have a little dog who runs out of your apartment and trips a neighbor, covers you if something of yours gsts damaged on the property and your landlord is a shithead. Don't put it off.
posted by phunniemee at 4:40 AM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

I don't think you're being paranoid. It's good that you called it in (to the police?) and you should also notify your management company about what you saw. Yes to renter's insurance, leaving a radio on while you're out, locking up/hiding valuables, taking photos of your stuff, making sure your electronic devices have strong passwords and are stowed away when you're not home, and taking any other precautions that make you feel comfortable, at least for a while. I've also heard the advice that you should leave some cash, maybe $40 or so, in an easy-to-find place like your hall table, so if someone is robbing you they might be tempted to just grab that and go. I don't know if that's good advice, but you can decide.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:56 AM on May 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Speaking as an apartment dweller, PLEASE don't leave your radio on when you're out. If it's loud enough for a burglar to hear, it's loud enough to bother everyone above or below you. If something along those lines makes you feel safer, leave the TV on with no sound. They'll see the flickering. Renter's insurance is an excellent idea.
posted by Kriesa at 6:26 AM on May 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

You're probably overreacting. There are any number of reasons someone might do the things you saw, which people have covered above. But to help you sleep easy at night:

1. Renters' insurance (it's very inexpensive!) and make a list or take photos of everything in your home.

2. If you're super worried, you can use an old phone or tablet to set up a cheap n' dirty home monitoring system (I'm partial to Manything, which uploads to a cloud based server so even if they steal the setup you have the video). You can set it up right in front of the door where potential burglars can see it, which may cause them to turn and run.
posted by AmandaA at 6:41 AM on May 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

leave the TV on with no sound

A Fake TV saves electricity and won't wear out the TV. It must be placed so that the unit can't be seen from outside (e.g., in a second-floor room or directly underneath the only window in a room) in order for the illusion to work.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Could you put a couple lights on a timer? That could at least give the impression that someone is home when you aren't.

I don't think you are being paranoid - sure sounds like might have been casing the apartment - but the reality is that these things do happen, so instead of continuing to move every time you are concerned, do things like get renters insurance, meet your neighbors and ask them to keep an eye on your place (if you trust them), do the lights/timer thing, and maybe keep the shades drawn re: big TV.
posted by Toddles at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are you able to mount a dummy security camera or two? If not, just the window stickers saying there is monitored security in place would be enough to deter casual thieves. Nothing will stop someone determined enough to get into your home, but there are so many targets that most will simply move on to somewhere else if they think there is any security at your place.
posted by dg at 4:10 PM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Make sure you have good door and window locks, and use them. Call the police and find out what the crime situation is in your neighborhood.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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