Going back to my first experience of living in an apartment, I have a few pretty funny stories I could share of being young and stupid. Today, however, I’m going to focus on the stupid side of that equation. While my story I’m about to tell worked out in the end, it could have gone very differently. I learned an important lesson that I’d like to pass on to others.
I was waiting tables at the time and kept some crazy hours. All my friends were doing the same so it was common for there to be people coming and going from my apartment into relatively late hours of the night. On this particular evening my friend, Jan was coming over after work to hang out and watch a movie. When she arrived at my apartment she noticed someone near my truck (the cutest little baby-blue Ranger with a flare-side bed… I loved that truck) messing with my tano cover. The first thing Jan said when I opened the door is, “I think someone is stealing your tano cover.” This must have been at a point in my youth when I was tired of being taken advantage of because without thinking, I darted down the stairs ready to stop these perpetrators and get my stuff back, all 120 pounds of me.
It ended up being a couple of high school kids with the same style truck as myself. One took off running and the other tried to drive away in my identical style Ranger but couldn’t because he didn’t realize his parking break was on. I immediately went over to his window, knocked, then stated plainly, “Look… I just want my stuff back”. He gave it to me and my friend Jan released his parking break for him so he could drive away, begging us not to tell on him.
Hindsight being 20/20- thank God it wasn’t someone with a more serious motive. Or even a larger kid, like a member of the varsity football team. All joking aside, it could have been anyone and I had no business taking a stand like I did- alone.
I think my first mistake is that I did not have any emergency plans in place if something like this were to happen. Without having thought thoroughly ahead of time what I would do under such circumstances caused me to react instinctively, which put me in danger. What would you do if you saw someone stealing your car/stereo/belongings from your apartment parking lot? Would you confront them?
Here are five safety tips you can put into place at your apartment- or anywhere:
1. Have a plan. Know ahead of time what you would do if you saw someone stealing something in your apartment complex. Whether it’s calling the police, getting a license plate number, or notifying a community watch. Know where to find help and don’t try to be a hero.
2. Always lock your door. Never leave your door unlocked, even when you’re taking out the garbage. This ensures that no one can enter your apartment. It only takes a second for someone to notice your door is open and no one is home.
3. Know Your Neighbors. If you are familiar with the faces of your apartment complex it might be easier to spot when something or someone is amiss. Meet your neighbors or even set up a community watch so you all can keep an eye out for each other.
4. Leave Your Lights On. A well-lit entry way helps steer away unwanted visitors. Bad things are less likely to happen when you’re standing in a well-lit area where you are highly visible.
5. Don’t Walk Alone. This can be tricky, but walking alone through your complex parking lot late at night is dangerous. It is dangerous to be walking alone in any parking lot late at night. Perhaps you could put a buddy system in place with a neighbor friend. If that’s not possible, at the very least have a friend you can call while walking to or from your car when it is late at night.
It is easy to trust people. We don’t like to think bad things could happen to us. While we don’t want to constantly be a paranoid, anxious mess, these few simple steps might make a huge difference between being safe or sharing your warning story with others.
What safety techniques do you have in place at your apartment?