Precautions to Prevent HOA Crime

Residing in a shared-living Association offers a unique and uniform way of life. Those who choose to make these communities home certainly value the perks and promises that are guaranteed to them, from aesthetically-pleasing design and amenities, to a trustworthy and hardworking Board of Trustees to support them.  

But aside from the undeniable advantages of living in an Association, no community is immune to problems including crime and theft. The good news is the Board of Trustees can help ensure the entire community is equipped to prevent these issues before they happen. Here are some things that can be done:

Conduct a Security Assessment

When it comes to determining the right security measures for a community, the Board of Trustees can utilize a security assessment, either by performing one themselves, asking local law enforcement for help or turning to a professional security consulting firm. Surveying the community, noting number of past incidents both mild, such as graffiti, to severe, such as a break-in, and talking with current residents will help to determine the right measures of security for a particular community.

Any on-site inspection should be thorough and address the pain points when it comes to security, including the Association’s vulnerabilities, how well-lit common outdoor areas are, whether keys to facilities are controlled and accounted for, etc. Conducting a complete inspection, whether by the Board of Trustees or with outside help, will help keep everyone safe from harm.

Also, when the Board of Trustees takes security seriously, they can protect themselves from liability. If the Board of Trustees does not have reasonable security measures in place, or fails to maintain proper measures or correct faulty measures, they can be considered “negligent” and therefore potentially liable for incidents that may occur.

Band Residents Together

Making sure homeowners are kept aware and alert of the happenings within their community is a great way to ensure that should something suspicious occur, it will be reported and taken care of. The Board of Trustees can get residents to rally around the common goal of safety by encouraging them to stay aware of their surroundings.

In addition, many Associations opt to form a “Neighborhood Watch” group comprised of residents who feel passionate about safety. The most important thing to remember in order to avoid any liability issues or further problems is that a Neighborhood Watch is not meant to serve as a type of “law enforcement” — it is not a group that is meant to intervene but instead to stay aware and report anything suspicious.

The way that a Neighborhood Watch group is structured certainly varies by Association but the general structure involves thoughtful residents who are willing to congregate for meetings, keep an out eye out for criminal activity (each residents could be delegated to a certain block) and communicate with one another or the police if something is amiss. However it is important to remember no one is meant to carry any sort of weapon and no one is meant to take the place of the authorities.

Stay Alert, Stay Safe

Both residents and the Board of Trustees can play a major role in crime and theft prevention by simply looking out for troublesome signs and problem areas. From abnormal foot traffic at a certain home, particularly at late hours, to burnt-out building lights, taking note of anything that is off balance with the safety goals of the community is an effective way to prevent problems before they happen.

Residents do not have to go out of their way to play their part — the Board of Trustees can encourage them to simply rely on common sense and intuition. If someone suspicious-looking is granted access to enter the premises, a resident should not be afraid to take note and to potentially call awareness to him or her. Like the old saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.

The Board of Trustees must consider safety a top priority. Aside from keeping residents safe, they must know their responsibilities in order to keep themselves safe as well. By conducting a proper security assessment and educating residents about an overarching safety goal, any community can foster a lasting sense of security.

While complete and problem-proof safety may not be attainable, there is certainly a much-improved level of security an Association can strive for. This will keep residents feeling confident in their day-to-day safety and contribute to the pleasant nature of the community way of living that they desire.