Canada's Condominium Magazine
A woman who lives in a downtown condominium building where two men were killed last weekend told a TV news reporter that security in the building was lax. The entrance doors, both front and back, were always open, she said. Anyone could just walk up and open the doors. She seemed to be making a connection between the killing and the open doors, though that connection doesn’t necessarily hold up; the suspects in the killing are thought to have been party guests in the condo where the shooting took place.
The fact that two people were killed in the building will not make residents feel more secure, whether the shooters were there by invitation or by stealth. Nothing makes people more nervous about their personal safety than the occurrence of a violent crime nearby. It doesn’t matter that the occurrence of violent crime overall is declining in Toronto; when it happens in your backyard, as it were, it’s worrying.
Apart from this particular shooting, however, any building’s security should be the concern of everybody who lives in it. If in fact, as the woman claimed, the doors to her building are “always open” and anyone can walk in at will, there’s a serious problem with that condo’s management. The condo’s board and its property management people had better make the problem of the open doors their number one priority, and act quickly to resolve it. Residents should be involved too. The woman who complained to the reporter on TV should be complaining to her board, who have the means to do something about it.
Controlling access to a condo building is a basic component of security. It is why buildings have locked doors, surveillance cameras, coded entry systems for residents, concierges, security guards and any other measures they may choose.
Access control is not the whole story, however. If access control fails—a door gets stuck open, for instance—there should be security personnel on site to deal with it. A faulty access control system is of no value for security. The desire for security, after all, is one of the main reasons people consistently give for choosing to live in a condo community. Anyone who feels security in their building is inadequate should not hesitate to make their concerns known to the board.
Don’t let strangers in
But as security experts always say, any system is only as secure as the people using it. Every time a well-meaning but misguided resident politely holds the door open for a stranger, he or she introduces a potential security risk into the building. Every time residents leave their own suite doors unlocked, they are inviting trouble, making a burglar’s work that much easier.
The following tips are for condo residents who want to take an active part in making their buildings more secure.
- Make sure all entrance doors to the building (parking garage gate and side door, entrance door to the lobby, entrance door to the storage area) are fully closed, whether going in or going out. If any door has to be left open, it should be watched.
- Know who you are letting in the lobby door, when asked to do so via the intercom.
- Never “buzz”, allow entry, or hold the entrance door open for a stranger to enter your building no matter how good their excuse may be! To be really secure, ask for identification even if the stranger is wearing a uniform.
- Use your last name only on the condo directory at the enter phone to thwart strangers claiming to know you.
- Lock your door whenever you leave your suite, even if you are just visiting a neighbour, or going down to check your mail. Lock balcony doors too. This is especially important if you live on the ground floor, the second floor, or a penthouse suite.
- Windows accessible from the ground level should open only from the inside.
- Keep one key to your condo with a friend/neighbour. Do not hide a spare key somewhere outside the condo (under the mat, in the car, etc.).
- If you lend your condo key to someone (e.g. tradesmen), be sure of the person’s reliability.
- Report anything suspicious you see, or any failure in your building’s security, to your board immediately.