Condo Security

September 2014

Improving condo security means accepting a loss of convenience for safety.

Reduced convenience is a necessary consequence of increased protection. There are also financial costs to consider.

Balancing convenience and security is an ongoing challenge that requires knowledge of areas which are at greatest risk in a condo building.

Condos have a lower incidence of break-ins than houses or townhomes. Much of this has to do with the combination of security, people and doors prevalent in condo buildings.

Areas of greatest risk tend to be 1st and 2nd floors which are most easily accessible and the penthouse area which some believe to house the wealthiest residents of a building. Units near stairwells are also at greater risk as are patios and balconies with sliding doors.

According to some security specialists, the greatest risk for condo break-ins is between 1 pm and 5 pm. Professionals are more likely to attempt a break-in during the mid-afternoon period of 1pm to 3 pm when people are less likely to be home. The after school period of 3 pm to 5 pm is also considered prime time for break-ins.

How Safe is Toronto?

Toronto is the safest city in Canada. Yet security remains the top concern among people planning to purchase a condominium according to a 2012 TD Canada Trust poll.

Security was considered more important than having a balcony, parking, access to public transit or any other feature.

Suggestions to Reduce Theft in High Risk Areas

  • Better quality locks or other protective hardware on patio and balcony doors.
  • Many buildings utilize an access system requiring an access device. Installing a card reader or similar device in elevators ensures that only those with an authorized device can use the elevator.
  • Installing locks on stairwell doors eliminates floor access from stairwells. As with any security measure, it is necessary to ensure a security solution complies with safety regulations such as those requiring unfettered access to outside areas in the event of an emergency.
  • Auto theft in garages can be minimized by ensuring valuable items are not stored in vehicles. When it is necessary to store valuable items in vehicles, items should not be visible.
  • Some condos have a garage intercom system connected to the concierge desk to be used for emergencies. Others have what is called a duress station that includes a flashing
    light and/or alarm. These areas should be monitored by closed circuit camera to help prevent abuse.
  • To prevent unauthorized vehicular access to the garage, installing a security arm that requires an access device and closes as a vehicle passes is helpful. Other options include automatic door closing after about 15 seconds or high speed doors that close once a vehicle passes.
  • In the event of theft or break-in, report it to the police. Do not assume that a report has been made by building management or a neighbour. The sooner this report is made, the lower the risk of subsequent thefts or break-ins.

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