There are numerous ways that an Association can provide added security to both themselves as a community and to their homeowners. However, in most cases, acting on all of these security measures is not feasible. A community must review it's budget and financial situation before acting on these items:
- Lighting is a necessity. For any Association having a lot of common area space, roads, parking lots, and amenity areas - it is important to keep these areas well lit. When an area is well lit, it can be seen more easily by others, which also generally decreases the chances of illegal activity. Contact your power company to set up a walk through. They can provide recommendations on where lights need to be placed in your common areas. If it’s a road or other area not owned or maintained by the Association, contact your city or county representative to put in the request for additional lighting.
- Gates, cameras, and entrance swipe cards go a long way for Association security. While these items do not guarantee that you can keep the "riff raff" out of your Community, it does make it a lot more difficult for uninvited guests to gain access. For communities that do have gates, it is important that entrance gate codes are not published. Cameras are also a deterrent for criminals because, even though no one may be watching them at the time, these cameras can pick up their every move. If you currently have or decide to obtain these options for security measures, it is important to work with a qualified security company. They can provide back up to these systems and can the supervision needed to properly maintain these items. Also check with your legal counsel to confirm appropriate signage related to the systems that your community has in place.
- A less affordable option for an Association is the hiring of a security guard or company. These security officers can be off-duty police officers or those screened and hired by security patrol companies. These also do not guarantee no illegal activity will occur but knowing that someone is always in the community watching may encourage anyone looking to perform a crime to go elsewhere.
- Neighborhood Watch has also become a huge benefit for Associations. If enough members of the community show interest in a Neighborhood Watch, then a police officer from your local precinct will meet with those interested to officially establish the Neighborhood Watch for the community. The benefit of this is prominent signage throughout the community along with a commitment of neighboring eyes who will contact police in the event of suspicious activity.
As a homeowner, there are also many things you can do to protect yourself from crime.
- Lighting comes up again as a huge importance. Never make it look like your home is empty. Criminals flock to such homes. Leave exterior lights on in the areas that burglars would attempt to break in (around doors, windows, etc.). Leave a few lights on in your home to make it more difficult for a burglar to hide if they do happen to make it into your home.
- Alarm systems may be the most beneficial option for your home. Depending on your alarm company, they’re generally set to go off whenever someone breaks into a door or window and also if someone opens a door and does not have the correct alarm code. These alarm companies have the ability to contact the police once the alarm is signaled so the authorities can get there as quickly as possible.
- Make sure to call 911 should you see any suspicious activity whatsoever. This could even relate to a neighbor of yours in the Community. If there is ever an occasion where you feel unsafe due to someone else, the police is always the best and fastest option. To get as much detail as possible, the police do generally ask for your name and contact info but you always have the option to not give them this information and call in as anonymous.
- Most municipalities also have a website for their police departments. Many of them have links where you can give details on suspicious activity and request additional patrol in your area. The more people who do this generally results in more police presence. Be sure to review municipal websites to see what options you have for safety as well as checking for suggestions from your police department on other ways to keep you and your home safe and secure.
Keep these tips in mind - both as a homeowner and a Community - to keep the place you call home safe!