For our local apartment managers, recognizing and addressing the lower levels of what motivates criminals is the first key to successfully deterring crime. A good crime prevention program works best on moderately and poorly motivated criminals. There are several things apartment managers can do on the prevention side to steer clear of basic criminal elements-this article will focus on basic crime prevention and maintaining a smart key control system.

Basic Tips:

-A criminal’s motivation to commit a theft is at it’s lowest level during the first visit to the property
-Criminal motivation increases with familiarity of the property
-Success, in committing crimes in an apartment community, will increase the level of motivation to continue to commit more crimes
-It is three times more difficult to deter a criminal who has been successfully committing crimes on your property
-The best places to address lower levels of criminal motivation is at the entrances to the property,the perimeter of the buildings, and most importantly, in the leasing office. The property thief will view the lack of suitable escape routes as a trap and will simply choose another property to victimize. Good perimeter fencing and a reduced number of entrances after hours will often create that perception. Believe it or not, thieves read the signs that say, Security Patrol or Neighborhood Watch or Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, even if we don’t. Property thieves want to blend into a community, and they get uncomfortable when residents look suspiciously at them.

Besides basic deterrence by paying attention to entrances, exits and perimeters of your property, Key Control of your property can also greatly reduce criminal activity in your apartment community. Key control requires restriction and documentation of those who use the back-up keys and master keys.

 Here are 10 tips for better key control and resident security:

-Re-key or replace the unit door locks at tenant turnover
-Eliminate or limit the use of the master key
-Keep the back-up keys in a locked key box
-Code the keys not to reflect the unit number
-Secure the code sheet and key box key separately
-Keep a log of who checks out a back-up key
-Keep two keys on a hook for quick daily visual inventory
-Keep the key-cutting machine and key blanks secure
-Lock the room or closet that houses the key box
-Set the office burglar alarm after-hours

Basic common sense and diligent key control are two major things you can do to prevent crime in your apartment community. Don’t forget to post your signs alerting residents and potential criminals about your surveillance and camera systems that are capturing potential evidence. It makes your residents feel more secure and makes the potential property thief think twice about coming back to your apartment community.