Because how you perform at work depends partly on the life you lead at home.
While we tend to stick to here at Brazen, your life isn’t all about the office. Sometimes you get torn from your desk by real life. By family obligations. By pets with the stomach flu. Or your upstairs neighbor calling you to say the rear doors to both his apartment and your English basement have been kicked in by some stupid awful jerkhead thief who probably is unpleasant and ugly and smelly and stupid and awful.
As it happens, this is exactly what happened to me earlier this year, and I am now using this public forum to pass my wisdom on to the rest of the world. Not because I’m bitter—no, never—but because it could save you from having an when you get a similar phone call.
So here are a few tips for burglary-proofing your life:
Pester your landlord
If your apartment is particularly vulnerable in any way, by all means tell your landlord you would like additional safety measures taken. Are the locks on the windows not closing? Is your deadbolt loose? Tell your landlord you’d like it fixed. After all, they have their own interest in keeping the apartment burglary-free and in good condition, as opposed to spending time and money repairing broken windows or a kicked-in door.
If they say no, refer to your lease; there’s a good chance that there’s a clause about your landlord’s responsibility to maintain a safe apartment. As I understand it in my non-attorney mind (insert disclaimer here about this not being legal advice), no, your landlord generally isn’t responsible if your apartment does get busted into—but yes, you may have written confirmation that they need to keep it habitable and secure.
Give in to your neuroses
Okay, so your additional security measures may not happen quickly enough. For example, you may hear of a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood and ask for a gate to be put on your suddenly-very-vulnerable-looking back door, only to find that the burglars have managed to beat your landlord to said door.
I mean, hypothetically speaking here.
Anyway, the point that some of this is out of your control, not to mention your landlord’s. But only some of it. Maybe you can’t put bars on your own back door, but you can find some other way to protect your goods, like buying a safe. Or if you’re feeling a little less like a normal person, you could play the hiding game—and hide, for example, your computer every day when you leave the house.
When I heard thieves had taken a liking to my neighborhood, I put my computer in an undisclosed location every morning, in the XXXXX behind the XXXXX, shoved under the XXXXX, and sang my “hiding the computer song.”
“Hiding the com-pu-ter in the XXXXX for the 95th tiiime,” I would sing in a really sort of creepy falsetto. “I’m probably in-saaaaaane and I embraaace it!” Then the imaginary backup singers would come in with a soulful: “Like a sissssss-ter or a pet turtle!”
Lo and behold, after the jerkish-but-hurried-and-perhaps-lazy burglars had left, the computer was still there.
I mean, you can’t give in to every compulsion. If I did, I would always unplug every appliance every time I left the house (ANYTHING CAN START A FIRE), and all of the ice cube trays would always be symmetrically emptied (I have no excuse for this one). But when it comes to a cherished possession that holds sensitive information, not to mention the simply genius short stories you wrote in college that the world wasn’t advanced enough to appreciate, sometimes you can let the crazy come out. And if burglars strike, the universe will actually validate that crazy.
Come to think of it, that’s sort of an unsettling lesson, but it’s true. It happened to me.
Research your magical technology options
My roommate was not so lucky, and his laptop—along with all of his brand-spanking-new vacation photos (sublesson: back up everything you’ve ever created or downloaded)—left the apartment under Stupidface McCriminal’s arm. But a program that he happened to have on his computer helped him to track where the computer was next logged onto.
Have the police recovered the computer yet? No. But a quick search of the internets shows me myriad computer programs like that could still be very helpful in allowing you and your local police department to hunt down your baby.
Get renter’s insurance
Honesty time: I didn’t have renters’ insurance when my apartment was robbed. Lesson learned. .
Yes, it may seem like an unnecessary expense to protect against an altogether unlikely event. But to put it in cost/benefit terms, renters’ insurance can be fantastically cheap. Many insurance websites will provide you with a free quote, and the cost could be surprisingly low. In my last, four-person house, the insurance ran less than $200 per year. That, to me, is a great deal, considering however many computers/bikes/very valuable thrift store chairs and futons we were protecting.
And we didn’t even have to make up any creepy falsetto songs.
lives in Washington, D.C., where she works as a journalist. She still hides her computer every day, because it’s fun.