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Crime: closer to home than you think.

According to the New York Police Department's Crime Analysis Unit, more than 112,015 burglaries took place citywide last year. That's an average of about one crime for every 70 New Yorkers. How do you make sure your building does not become a part of these statistics?

With over 13,000 burglaries occurring in Manhattan South last year, over 18,000 in the Bronx, and roughly 23,000 in Brooklyn South, building managers need to take heed of every bit of crime-saving information they can get their hands on. This means not only installing the most effective equipment, but knowing more about security than the criminal does.

To start, management needs to initiate a pro-active approach to enhance safety in the entire building. Perform a thorough analysis of the building, including layout, entrances/exists, security systems and locks. Call in a professional security installation specialist to ensure that all security are in proper working order, all systems' repair dates are checked, and all locks within individual units are reviewed as a preventive measure.

Most building managers know the importance of properly securing a building's entrances and exists. But they often overlook the inside stairways, elevators, hallways, and basements, particularly the laundry room, if there is one. be significantly prone to crime once a criminal bypasses the external building security systems.

To sufficiently protect a building building owners and managers need to be educated about which security products are appropriate for their buildings. Almost all security devices have undergone vast transformations since they were first created, mostly due to rising crime figures. What were once extra selling items for buildings have now become necessities.

For example, popular systems include the latest-model audio intercoms, video intercoms and closed circuit TV systems, which can monitor buildings far more effectively than the traditional bell-and-buzzer systems of years ago. These models are particularly useful in buildings where there is no doorman or where the entrances are at an isolated part of the street.

The most effective crime-stopping devices are audio/video intercoms and closed-circuit TV systems. In many buildings, we'll also recommend having dummy closed-circuit TV cameras. These deter crime and cost much less than installing a working system. To avoid hiring security personnel, many co-op and condo boards and owners are also purchasing time-lapse recorders, which allow existing CCTV systems to record up to 30 days of activity. These can provide evidence for police investigators and are admissible for criminal proceedings, if necessary.

An informed management team, however, is only half the battle of securing a building Educated residents comprise the other half. How much a building's occupants know about crime is a major factor in determining whether or not a building will be easy prey for a burglar.

Those residents who are more informed about the kind of crime that is prevalent in an area, the times it is most likely to occur, and the ways to combat it will not be so prone to buzz people into a building without first checking who they are. They will also be more be prepared to call security or the police department if they see someone who obviously does not belong in a building.

In previous years, if a building had been broken into, a new aluminum vestibule door, for example, was put in with not much thought about educating the residents about how to use it or how to prevent other building assaults. Now, owners and managers are encouraged to inform residents about precisely the type of system that will be installed in a building, the benefits, and how it can be maintained.

Training programs are a great way to educate residents about enhancing security in the building. These can be easily arranged by a building's security installation specialist or the local police department for each apartment building or block. Hold monthly or quarterly meetings, where residents can learn such valuable safety techniques as properly securing their units with more than one lock or if they use several locks, to always keep one unlocked so a criminal is constantly locking one and unlocking the others.

It's also a good idea for residents to organize a crime watch within a building. Informing time shifts could be arranged in which residents take turns looking out for suspicious people hanging around outside or inside the building. Set up a tenants' desk at either the front or back entrance to help keep a building safe; residents can take turns keeping track of people entering a building during the peak traffic times, 7 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m.

Above all, encourage building residents to take an active stance on crime. Simply informing managers about a fire escape that hangs too low, a door that locks only some of the time, or poor lighting in the basement, for example, can help them stay one step ahead of crime.

Is your building safe? The following checklist should provide a good outline. Your building is safe if it has: 1) An electromagnetic door locking mechanism in place, that's one plus 2) A closed circuit t.v. system installed, that's another plus 3) A bell and buzzer system, it could swing positive or negative, depending upon whether residents have a tendency to let people in without properly identifying them or not 4) A video intercom

Your building is less than safe if it has: 1) No intercom system at all 2) No internal security systems installed, only systems to protect the external building 3) Misinformed management and residents

Few buildings have all the pluses or all the minuses, but those with an effective security system in place will certainly be safer, thereby attracting more potential residents. Yet these devices are only half the battle. To maintain tenancy, buildings need an educated management force and an educated resident team.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review and Forecast, Section II
Author:Lubitz, Jordan
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 24, 1992
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