Birdbrain of Alcatraz

Adding A Sense Of Security To Your Community

Or is it birdman? In any event, are you the manager of a property with bars on the windows and they (the bad guys), are in control. Well, shinny up to the table and let’s have some serious dialog.

bars on window safety security crimeIf you look at the gang map of Orange County, it is difficult to find a property that is not impacted by one or more of the 250 gangs that call paradise “home.” Sheriff Brad Gates, District Attorney Michael Capizzi and the police chiefs of Orange County have been waging a vigorous battle against those who elect to defile our properties, but the war is not theirs’ alone. We too, as managers and members of the property management team, are called to arms (not to bear arms) but symbolically, to arms, utilizing our heads and not our bodies. So what can we do?

I offer several avenues with the pervasive advice that you should not stand for lawlessness for one second.

Here are some avenues:

Establish A Rapport With The Police Department

  • Begin by understanding the demands of them. This can be accomplished by talking to them, their leadership, the mayor and city council.
  • Go on a ride-along.
  • Know your beat officers. Become their friends.
  • Call the police when you truly need them.
  • If there is a problem with police service, document it and review it professionally with the watch commander.
  • Be helpful to them.
  • Support police groups and associations. Go out of your way to do this. However, do it respectfully and gratuitously.
  • Compliment them verbally and in written form when so deserved.

Form A Consortium With Other Apartment Owners And Managers In Your Area

  • To share successful methods of prevention and control.
  • To share resident histories.
    – Those convicted
    – Those evicted (Take care not to violate privacy laws.)
  • To brainstorm.
  • To share security services and expense.
  • To coordinate a positive anti-crime anti-drug message.

Develop Street-Smart Leasing: A Moment Of Opportunity For Security

At the point of lease, do these things to ensure additional security for your community:

  • Take pictures of each resident and place those pictures in the resident’s file.
  • Copy the driver’s license of each (if applicable).
  • Obtain emergency phone numbers of their family, friends or relatives who live off site.
  • Obtain their fingerprints.
  • Before lease is consummated, do these checks:
    – Criminal Record Search
    – Retail Credit Report
    – Automated Cross Check
    – Joint Report (husband and wife)
    – Social Security Search
    – Reference Verification

Note: Be aware of these early warning signs:

  • The person who has to move in at once and cannot wait for your normal checking procedure.
  • The self-employed prospect. Don’t let him impress you with titles and stories. Check bank statements and tax returns.
  • The out-of-town prospect. Do an outof- state check. (No references — no unit.)
  • A request to move in or store items in the unit before the lease is signed. This is an absolute “no” regardless of the story.
  • An unusual location request, such as on alleyway to immediate street access. Be observant.


Constrain Vandalism

  • Acknowledge it.
  • Fix what is broken immediately.
  • Contact the police.
  • Share information with residents and ask them to keep on the lookout.
  • Place warning signs and decals in prominent places.
  • Install cameras.
  • Use a neighborhood patrol.
  • Use motion detectors.
  • Create an awareness that you are vigilant and that vandalism will be aggressively pursued and stopped.

Remember, the solution to crime in your community is not someone else, it is you! Be aggressive in addressing the problem of crime and in developing solutions. There are numerous resources to help you. Use them!

Ref.: Maintaining a Secure & Safe Apartment Community by John C. Maciha & Associates

John Maciha is a former vice president of The Irvine Company and now serves as a consultant in the area of asset management.
He can be reached at (714) 744-1279