Canada's Condominium Magazine
One of the key reasons to live in a condominium community is to enjoy peace of mind. No community is crime free, but condominiums tend to have lower crime rates. The Ontario Government lists several “protective factors” for crime, of which “community” is a top factor.
Crime is everywhere, but condos safer than most communities
Regardless, crime seems to be inescapable. No matter where you go, you are likely to encounter some sort of suspicious activity. Even Mayberry needed a sheriff’s department. Among the Ontario Government’s recommendations for preventing crime are three key factors — all of which are built-ins in most condo communities  :
- Surveillance and monitoring systems (built in in the community entries, parking areas and monitored usually by security)
- Environmental Design (limiting access and other factors)
- Alarms systems (most units also have their own alarms — if not, consider installing one.)
Prepare for the worst, live for the best
Preparation is key. Assume the worst, drill for the worst, then live for the best — once you’re prepared, you’ll have the peace of mind to just enjoy life and your community.
Some areas are more crime-ridden than others. Regardless of the community in which you live and the level of crime prevalent in your area, it can be helpful to prepare yourself so that you know what to do if you ever find yourself or your neighbours in danger, or if you witness a crime of any sort.
In addition to traditional alarms systems, numerous smartphone and tablet apps are available that can not only control your alarm system, they can give you home monitoring from a remote location — handy if your alarm company or concierge calls you to say there’s been an alarm. It’s also very useful for keeping an eye on pets.
Calling for help
Although you may be hesitant to call for assistance out of fear of retaliation. However, if you witness a crime or any suspicious activity, it is important that you call either emergency services or your local police department, depending on the severity of the situation. Obviously, a purse snatcher needs to be reprehended, but it is not severe enough to warrant calling 911. Calling 911 in a non-emergency may inhibit another person’s ability to get through if they actually have an emergency situation taking place.
Observe the situation and your situations. Do not intervene in any way unless you are absolutely certain it is safe to do so. It is far better to let the police get involved. They will investigate the situation and follow protocol to ensure that the situation is handled properly. Make sure that you know whom to call in various situations. You should know what jurisdiction your community falls under, as well as the communities around you. A friend you are visiting just may be in another jurisdiction from your own.
Condo Community action
It can also be beneficial for your community to have a plan of action for potential crimes. Perhaps setting up a neighbourhood watch (even a “floor watch” if you live in a high rise) can help put residents at ease, while getting the entire community involved in keeping everyone safe. If your community does not already have one, try setting one up. Many people would be happy to give back to their community and help out so that they know their family and neighbours are all safe.
See our previous story on organizing a Condo Community Alliance for your floor>>
Further actions can be taken as preventative measures to keep your home and community safe. Rather than keeping spare keys in the usual spots, such as under doormats or in the mailbox, entrust them with a close friend, neighbour, or business owner. Set timers on lights when you are expected to be away from home for an extended period of time. Get to know your neighbours and offer to check on their homes while they are away, and they can check on yours when you are out of town as well.
For more information about keeping your community safe, read the tips provided by the National Crime Prevention Centre. You can find additional information in Crime Prevention in Ontario: A Framework for Action.