A Word to the Wise Avoiding Common Security Mistakes

There are some eight million people living in the five boroughs of New York. A sample size that big is bound to yield some bad apples. Most every New Yorker knows how to avoid the garden-variety, shady-looking miscreant on the street—the trick is to keep them out of your building. How to achieve this? Here are what the experts have to say.

Have clear access rules.

Sounds simple: the best way to keep burglars and muggers and worse out of the building is to, well...keep them out of the building. “With regard to safety and security in residential co-op, condo, and condo buildings, access is a significant concern,” says Michael Basile, vice president of management for Manhattan-based AKAM Associates and AKAM On-Site. “Clear instructions must be communicated to door staff, building staff, and residents with regard to the building’s entry and apartment access policies. That means not letting guests into the building prior to getting approval from the resident, establishing the identity and purpose and duration of the visit before granting entry, not holding an access door open for unidentified individuals, and so forth.”

Ask for identification before letting in a postal service employee or a UPS delivery person, says Matt Arnold of Academy Mailbox.

Maintain your intercom system and front door auto-lock.

Just as a car that never needs servicing is superior to a flashier model that’s always in the shop, locking and intercom systems that don’t work are useless, no matter how much they cost. “To make any entry policy enforceable, management must ensure that the intercom system is always operational,” Basile says, “and that the front door is never unattended and that it locks automatically upon closing.”

"For the purpose of security in the building, it's very wise to know to whom you're allowing access," according to Diana Darlington of Jordan Intercom Systems. "And of course the system is only going to be as good as the user. It's important to know who the person is before releasing the door."


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  • Although their are strict rules in place to make sure that postal uniforms do not fall into the wrong hands, I still sometimes see a postal uniform on sale on ebay. Your suggestion to ask for ID for an unrecognized letter carrier or postal employee is a good one. Those wearing the postal uniform are amongst the most trusted public servants studies have shown, so it is natural to open the door for someone who appears to be a letter carrer; only do so after asking for ID!