Receiving that email in your inbox from the property management company that a suspicious man was found lurking through your building trying to find unlocked doors raises many concerns. This email showed up in my inbox which ironically paired with some experiences I had traveling to some unsecured local art buildings in my community that had me thinking about this topic this week. This blog post lays out some security points to consider when seeking a new studio space or to help boost up your security in your current space.
Building security is important. It is one of the questions you should always ask your leasing agent when seeking a new studio space (Read the full post here).
Public Spaces: Building access is important, but unlocked buildings invite people into spaces. Those people can be either wanted or unwanted. While it can be really handy for clients or visitors to enter the building if it remains unlocked or if you frequently misplace your key. Buildings that have retail, community, food, or other spaces that the public may need to access usually have more relaxed security so the visitors can enter these spaces. This can unintentionally compromise some other barriers to the building.
Hallways: Consider all things outside your space fair game. This includes artwork on walls, furniture or items tucked away for storage, and more. Anything that is not locked behind your doorway is essentially free. Take a look in your community spaces as well, if your neighbors have lots of junk in the hallway, items left out that are in a “free” box or if there is lingering trash not taken out. A messy hallway shows that management is not following up on the building and can invite additional unwanted guests.
Neighbors: Being neighborly is important. My neighbor was the one who found the suspicious man lurking through my building and called the cops before anything happened. Befriend your neighbors and look out for one another. Neighbors will alert you when suspicious activity begins if you communicate as well.
Outdoor Appearance: The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and antisocial behavior. This is applicable to the condition of the building. This means that trash piling up outside, abandoned cars parked in the lots, cracked glass and more can signal to unwanted guests that space is not kept up and welcomes suspicious or criminal behavior to occur.
Doors, Locks & Keys: If you feel the need to or desire to increase your security, do so. Many times you can change your door lock if you pay for the update and give the key to your management company. Check with your lease and management company before doing this. If you use a digital keypad you can change the entry code as needed. Consider changing the lock if you are in a new space, you never know who has a duplicate key, who was in the space before, and who might return.
Consider blocking off the view into your space especially if you have a glass view into your studio. Using contact paper is an easy way to nicely seal the view into your space. This is to prevent any building visitors from unnecessary peeks into your space when you are not around.
Don’t hide spare keys underthings, mount a key lockbox if you need. It’s not that difficult to find keys tucked away so why not lock it up in pain sight.
Mail and Packages: If you don’t frequent your space daily or a few times a week, consider where your mail and packages are sent. Theft of packages is a current trend that is happening from the steps of residential homes. If you have expensive packages arriving at your studio space then be sure to be there on the day of your package arrival or consider having the package delivered to your home. When packages sit out, it shows that you are not frequenting your space often. This goes the same for people leaving notes taped to your door or partially slipped underneath the door.
Window: Be mindful of your windows especially if you are on the first level. Break-ins can happen easily through windows. Check that your windows are locked when you leave the studio. Also, take a look at your space from the viewpoint of the burglar, see that they can view it in your space. Do you have the equipment, laptop computer, or other expensive items out in view? Cover these when you leave your studio with something, tuck them away, take mobile items with you that don’t need to stay in your space, or close the shades or drapes.
If you like to have your windows open, consider installing window stops so you can open your windows but that they won’t open more than six inches. Also, consider getting expandable window grates too.
Lights: Consider leaving a light on or some signal that space is inhabited. If you pay for electricity then this may not be ideal but find a way to show that you frequent the space often. Consider using a motion sensor, a timer on your lights, or getting smart lights that you can control and turn on and off when you are away through an application.
Ask Questions: If something is happening in your building that doesn’t seem normal ask questions. Ask your neighbor, as the police, as the building manager, or leasing company. You will usually be alerted when work will be done around the building or when a handyman will enter your space. If something is out of place in your studio or in or around the building reach out and ask.
Documentation: Copy down your serial numbers from your devices and take photos of your space so if you were broken into, you have records of how it was before and after the incident. You can then use these photos to help with your insurance claim. Also, backup all of your files regularly so if something were to happen you can still access what you need.
Don’t advertise your absence, sharing on Facebook that you haven’t been to the studio lately or that you are going on vacation tells people that you won’t be at your space. This goes for posting open hours or when you will be at your space. While in some instances it will be helpful to your business to have hours available, this can also indicate when you won’t be around and occupying your space.
Prepare for the worst but expect the best. Save the phone number to your building contacts so if something were to happen that you could get in touch with someone as soon as possible.
Affordable Updates to Your Studio
Here are a few ways to update your security with various price options to meet all types of budgets that would work in most studios. It’s always an option to buy a real armed security system but here are some budget-friendly solutions to increase security in and around your space.
- $5 tie-wrap any artwork to the hanging device or nail to make it difficult to swiftly remove work from walls and walk off with it, especially if the artwork is hanging in the hallway
- $10 decoy security system sticker to place on your door or window or other exterior location to help deter anyone, a variety of these can be found online for different security companies
- $10 fake security camera: Fake Security Camera This specific camera comes with a dummy security sticker too!
- $13 timer for lights: Century 7 Day Heavy Duty Digital Programmable Timer This timer allows you to plan different settings for each day of the week and will turn on and off whatever is plugged in according to your settings.
- $50 small safe to lock up valuables, checkbooks, cash, and other important paperwork including financial documents: AmazonBasics Security Safe Consider getting a larger safe if you have more valuables
- $50 Camera: CetNova Wireless Security IP Camera, I bought this camera and awaiting its arrival, it connects to your phone through an app and starts recording when movement happens. It even has two-way communication and night vision. I can’t wait to try it!
Do you have other recommendations for increasing your security or have a security story of your own? Comment and share below, I find that sharing this type of information is beneficial as we can gain better ideas and products and learn from other artist’s experiences.