Whether you live in a gated or non-gated community in the New Jersey suburbs or the city, your home should be a safe-haven and sanctuary in which you can feel secure and protected from crime and other threats. So when it comes to the community you live in, what is being done to make your surroundings and neighborhood a safer, more secure place to live? Association residents, board members, and managers must work together to ensure that your community is safe, and residents' safety, property, and peace of mind are well in hand.
Security Starts at Home
It's a common misconception that suburban communities and developments are immune to the kind of crime that concerns people living in more concentrated urban areas. While certain types of street crime may be less common outside of the inner city, there are plenty of reasons to stay vigilant, even in quiet cul-de-sacs and gated communities. According to one neighborhood watch report from a condo development just outside Philadelphia, "Suburban and rural crime is now growing at more rapid rate than urban crime. The most common suburban crimes are property crimes such as burglary, thefts, and vandalism."
The report goes on to say that the main challenges of keeping association communities safe and secure are the distance between homes or units in some developments—which can make it harder to observe a neighbor's property—and the a larger geographic areas local police must patrol, which sometimes makes quick response time more difficult.
Another problem, says Maria Gonzalez, vice president of Nortronics Corp. in Fairview—a company specializing in security systems for both high-rise and low-rise condo developments—is boards' and managing agents' apathy toward developing proactive security policies. Perhaps because of the false sense of security a privacy fence or gate may give residents and board members, many boards wait to implement security measures until after something has happened—after a spate of mailbox bashings, or after the third home has been broken into.
"Most of the security issues are brought to light by associations after an incident," says Gonzalez. "Normally when we are contacted by an association, it's because they realize they have gaps in their security; especially if an incident has just taken place."