14 Tips To Help You Secure Your Dorm Or Apartment
During the first week of my Sophomore year, something that I never thought would happen, happened to me. Usually, I was very cautious about keeping the places I lived secure, but one night I slipped. That night happened to be the night that my apartment got broken into.
While strange people (that we never caught, by the way) were rummaging through the apartment I lived in with two of my friends; we were all in our rooms fast asleep. That was until one of my roommate's dogs heard the commotion and barked until she woke up. All she saw was a glimpse of one of their hands and arms as they turned off the light and closed the door.
I didn't get a ton of stuff taken. They only got a few things like the singles packets you can put in your water and some college food staples like ramen from me. Nothing significant, nothing that couldn't physically be replaced. They were able to get something pretty big from one of my roommates, though, one of her DVD cases filled to the brim with DVDs she'd collected over the years. That was one of the most significant items, worth hundreds of dollars
It was icky. We called the police, they took down what was stolen, but it was either so small that it wasn't genuinely worth mentioning or it was big but hard to trace down in the end. We went to our apartment, but they were no help. Then we thought about trying to go through the insurance plan we were made to get through our apartment, but it turns out the plan that they picked only looked out for them. It was liability insurance to cover their property, not ours. Not only that, but even if it did cover our stuff the deductible was so high that it wouldn't have made sense to claim anything on the insurance anyway.
What Really Mattered
At the end of the day, though, it wasn't the stuff. It was the strange people we never caught who managed to enter our apartment on a one-off day that we forgot to lock the front door. The fact that those unknown people were mere feet away from me because they managed to take laundry detergent from the laundry room that was right beside my bedroom. If they were bold, and I hadn't locked my bedroom door, they could have easily gone into my bedroom too. You better believe I never once forgot to lock the front door ever again. I also never forgot to lock my bedroom door. I didn't want to ever feel that vulnerable again.
Now that I have told you my story let's chat about how you can secure your apartment or dorm.
1. Talk With Your Roommates About Securing Your Dorm Or Apartment
I had a LOT of random roommates in college and graduate school. I never lived with the same person more than a year besides one person that I lived with part of my freshman and all of my sophomore year. Other than that, I had different roommates all years of my college career.
One of the hardest parts of apartment security that I faced after my sophomore year was that I no longer lived with the people I went through that incident with. My new roommates had no reason to be upset over leaving the door unlocked for extended periods of time. I found that annoying in some cases because I was wholly invested in locking the door all the time and keeping it that way, even if we were in the house.
In some situations, if I didn't feel like my roommates were taking locking the door seriously enough, I just had to talk to them about it. You may have to have difficult conversations like that, but they are essential to have because not everyone is used to or cares about having to lock the door.
2. Always Lock The Door Behind You
After you have talked with your roommates about locking the door, it's vital that you do the same. Always locking the door can be annoying, but it's one of the easiest ways to make sure that you keep your dorm room safe and secure.
If you are leaving for any period, I say lock the door, especially if you are the last one to go or you don't know if your roommates are home. If your roommates are home, make sure you tell them that you will be leaving the door unlocked.
Check the door before you go to bed at night. Make sure that it's locked!
If you are worried about remembering your keys, put a sign by your bedroom door or by the main entrance to remind yourself to grab your keys before you leave.
3. Keep Your Valuables In A Personal Safe
If you have valuables that you want to protect like documents, jewelry, electronic devices, etc. you may want to consider getting a personal safe for your apartment or dorm. A safe is just a great thing to have in case you have some items that are valuable to you in your apartment or dorm room.
A safe is easy to get just make sure that your password is also hard to guess. Never use a password like 1234 or a password with too many repeating numbers like 1111. You also want to be careful about numbers like your birthday just in case the person who breaks into your apartment or dorm is a friend or someone who knows you from social media.
4. If You Live On Campus, Register Your Stuff With The Campus Or Get It Engraved
Many campuses offer ways for you to register your serial numbers with campus police as well as get your items engraved with your campus identification number.
This can help an awful lot if you have something like a MacBook Pro that EVERYONE owns at school. If you register a serial number with the police, it will help them immensely if it ever gets stolen at a later date.
If your stuff isn't registered with the campus police department, it is almost impossible to secure lost or stolen goods after the fact.
5. Live On A Higher Floor If You Can
I loved living on the first floor, not going to lie. I lived on the third floor during graduate school, and I hated it. Being so high and having to take multiple flights of stairs is the opposite of fun. All four years of college, though, I lived on the first floor which also comes with its risks.
The higher up you live, the harder it is for unwanted people to steal your stuff. Obviously, people burgle and rob people who live higher up in an apartment complex, but the higher you go, the higher the chances you won't get away with what you are doing. Burglars go for the low-hanging fruit. They jingle a few doors to see what's open, and they usually do this on the first floor. Going upstairs requires more time and patience which is not what a burglar has most of the time.
Being on the first floor is great because you can avoid all the steps, but it also comes with its fair share of issues, and you may need to be more cautious because of that.
6. Be A Private Person On Social Media
NEVER BROADCAST YOUR EVERY MOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Yes, I do want to know what you have been up to, but never post everything.
My advice? Wait until after you get home or even a few days after an event to post about it. You don't want burglars to know your every move, when you are home, and when you are not home.
If you live in a big apartment complex, you may post the name, but never post your physical address to your social media profiles if possible.
If you want to invite someone over tell them the address via text message or a message on social media. Don't post it publicly! People can look that information up and use it to stake out your dorm or apartment later.
Perform A Facebook Privacy Checkup
Facebook has a lot of information about us, and we let Facebook in on a lot of our lives. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself on Facebook is to perform a Facebook Privacy Checkup. You can get to this checkup by going to the Facebook website, clicking the question mark in a circle on the blue strip up top, and pressing Privacy checkup (click here for more instructions from Facebook if you are still unclear.) This checkup will help you see who sees your posts, what apps have access to your Facebook, and more.
7. Take Valuables Home With You If You Are Away For The Weekend
If you live close to home or you frequently travel for the weekend, take your valuables with you. This includes things like your laptop, tablets, and the like.
Obviously, you may have a huge valuable like a television, and that will be hard to take with you. Lock your bedroom door so that you don't have to worry as much about that valuable being taken.
Don't Bring Some Valuables To College At All
Some valuables like important pictures or documents don't have to be taken to college at all, to be honest. Don't bring things that are important to you that you can't feasibly take on trips with you. Things like baby pictures have a lot of sentimental value and we wouldn't want to lose them, but it would make no sense to bring them with us on a weekend trip. If something is valuable like that, don't bring it to college. Leave it at home! I am sure your parents won't mind.
8. Don't Leave Stuff Like Cars Or Bikes Unattended For Long Periods Of Time
When you are on campus, sometimes you don't need your car or bike for a long period, but you should never leave them unattended for too long. You may not care about a car sitting in the same place for a long time, but others around you may be counting the days until they think it's appropriate to try and steal the thing (especially if it's a bike!)
So, move your car and bike every few days. Ride them around school and park in a different location in the parking lot or bike rack. You don't have to use them all the time; you just need to pretend as if you do. Yes, it might suck to give up that fantastic parking spot, but if that parking spot becomes the way people stake out your car or bike, you may not want to chance it.
9. Keep Your Windows Secure (Especially If You Live On The First Floor)
The higher up you live, the less likely this is as much of a risk. If you live on the first floor of an apartment building, always keep your windows secure and locked when you aren't in the room, or you are not paying attention (such as being asleep.)
Windows are an easy target and way to get into an apartment or house. Most apartment or dorm windows have screens as well as the window itself that has a lock on it, but window screens can easily get cut. Instead of depending on the window screen, just make sure that the window is locked at night or that it's only slightly up and locked in place at night.
10. Consider Getting A Dorm Or Apartment Friendly Alarm System
There are quite a few dorm and apartment friendly alarm systems out there that are easy to install and help protect your property. It depends on what you need as far as getting something that's wireless and is monitored or something that is more of a deterrent.
If you are looking for something that is more of a deterrent, I love this security alarm kit from Sabre. It features a door stop alarm, a door/window alarm, and a personal alarm all for $24.99. This is not an internet connected or monitored kit. This will not alert authorities or anything, but it sounds an alarm that is loud and will ward off unsuspecting thieves.
If you are looking for a monitored system, I have been looking into Simplisafe, and it seems like a great and easy system to install for most apartments. Of course, you should always ask your landlord first before you install something like this. The systems start at $229.96 for the starter package plus system monitoring for your system begins at a $14.99 monthly fee.
11. Be Picky About Who You Bring To Your Dorm Or Apartment
It is crucial that you are picky about who you bring into your dorm or apartment. You are usually liable for what your guests do while at your dorm/apartment and that person can easily take things from you or the people around you.
Make sure that you know and trust the people you bring to your apartment. Don't invite over strangers, and if you do, make sure that you watch them while they are there.
This advice goes for boyfriends/girlfriends but also random people you are working with for class projects, teammates on a sports team, or anything in between.
12. Be Even Pickier About Who You Lend Keys To
You may lend keys to a friend or significant other so they can hang out in your room while you are in class, but if you do that, make sure that you trust them completely. They may make copies of your key or use the time they are in your room alone to steal from you, and you don't want either of those things.
13. Keep Up With Local News On Theft In Your Town
Being knowledgeable about what is happening in your neighborhood is important. To do this look at your local and campus newspapers to see what is happening around town. Look in the crimes section just to see if there have been crimes reported in your dorm or apartment. You may not necessarily get an alert from higher-ups who work in your dorm or apartment, so it's always nice to take matters into your own hands every once in a while.
Don't get paranoid or obsess over keeping up with things, but checking out the newspaper every once and a while will help you out.
14. Use Find My iPhone To Sound, Erase, And Locate Stolen Apple Products
If you have an iPhone or an iPad you can use the find feature on your devices to make your devices make a sound, track them if they are on, report them lost/stolen, or even erase them remotely. This is great because it means that people can't just use your devices without your permission and at best they would be able to scrap the device, not use it.
Safety is key when it comes to your products and your home. I hope that this article has provided a wealth of information for you. Security of your products and yourself on campus is crucial, and I hope that you liked this post.
If you want another post that is geared toward protecting yourself and not just your products, let me know. I would love to create a more in-depth post for protecting you too!
This is such a helpful post. I know my first year of college my head was all over the place. It’s great to have a post simply about keeping things safe to remind me that not everyone is as honest and respectful on campus. And college dorms can be a target place for theft.
Thank you so much for your comment, Taylor! I loved putting together this list of tips. I think it is important to not live your life constantly scared of what could happen more than anything. Locking the door is one of the best ways you can keep your stuff safe, and that is usually enough!
Thanks for making this guide! I’m not in college anymore but it’s still so useful! I never thought about this advantage of living on th my third floor, but you’re so right. I’m always really careful about locking the door but my boyfriend (who I live with) doesn’t take it seriously and it drives me crazy! I’m so sorry you had to go through such an awful experience but thankfully you were safe!
Thank you so much for your comments, Samantha! Yes, living on the third floor is such a great deterrent because no one (not even you) wants to get all the way up there lol. My sophomore year experience was interesting, but I am glad that I was able to create this blog post from it so that people can be safer with their college dorms and apartments.
I’m so sorry that happened to you. Security is always an afterthought until something bad happens, so I’m glad you wrote these helpful tips on dorm/apartment security!