Security is a homeowner’s responsibility

Last week someone published our community’s entrance gate code on social media and in printed signage. Neighbors were in an uproar, and, of course, the code needed to be changed to deter trespassers.

While this was an unfortunate situation that cost our homeowners association money (to send a mailing of the new code to all homeowners and for the gate company to reprogram the code), it brought up a larger conversation about security.

I did some reading on the topic and learned that most secure apartment complexes and communities call their gates “entrance and exit” gates, not security gates.

According to Property Management Professionals, a leader in the association management industry, “There seems to be a dangerous misunderstanding amongst community members that the association is responsible for the safety and security of the residents, invited guests and their personal property. Associations are in no way, legally or otherwise, responsible for the safety and security of residents, guests or personal property.”

Many of us have been reading on social media or in the papers about individuals stealing packages from front entryways or cars being burglarized in residential driveways. This is happening inside and outside of gated communities.

So how far do we go to keep ourselves safe?

My husband and I were debating the merits of products like Ring Video Doorbell. Not knowing a lot about the product, we thought it only alerted you when someone rang your doorbell. Since that happens so infrequently, we were uncertain of the benefit. However, we learned the product also has built-in motion sensors.

We talked about our household security system; we enter a code to arm and disarm the system, and it alerts us when windows or doors have been breached or there is motion in the house when we are not home. We also talked about security cameras that run all the time and are backed up to the cloud, as well as motion-activated floodlights.

All of them are viable options for home security.

My friend Barbara has two large German shepherds patrolling her property, so I suppose that is another option.

Both my husband and I believe that, while an entrance gate and periodic patrolling by a security service can help in some ways to thwart intruders, security is the homeowner’s responsibility.

About a year ago, my unlocked car, parked in my driveway, was broken into. Fortunately, I had nothing of value in the car, but I certainly felt violated by the experience. It taught me a valuable lesson: to lock my car at all times, even if it is parked in my own driveway.

The same holds true for securing our homes. We need to do what we can to feel safe and not rely on the perceived security of gates and patrol services. That also means being alert to anomalies in the neighborhood.

First, get to know your neighbors. Be observant of individuals who are looking into windows and parked cars, or unfamiliar cars driving by slowly late at night, or a stranger sitting in a parked car on the street. Call 911 if necessary.

According to reports from the FBI, there are over 2 million burglaries in the United States each year. That’s a staggering amount and may give you cause for concern regarding the well-being of your home and your belongings.

It’s up to you to protect your home against intruders and provide yourself some peace of mind.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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