Nairobi is a hub of malicious people. This is not to say that everyone is. It is to say that many, almost a majority, are. People who will do everything in their power to get a piece of things that you have worked very hard for. No neighborhood in Nairobi is conclusively secure. There will always be a degree of insecurity. You will work hard to find a hood with as little insecurity as possible but you also have to make sure that you prevent the threats that do exists no matter how weak. Below are nine security hacks if you are going to keep your things from changing ownership while you are away at work.
- Wooden Doors
These are not ideal. You should therefor avoid living in units with only wooden doors as much as possible. This is because wooden doors are very easy to breach. A person who truly wants to get into your unit will only use a little bit of force. It also means that the building management could have a spare key to your house. If you live in a higher end building then the wooden doors might be good quality. If not, then by all means turn away from such. Find units with metal doors where you will use a padlock whose key only you have. Maybe a chosen friend or family too.
- Ground Floor
Avoid living on the ground floor of buildings too if there is no fence on the outside. That means that people will have access to your windows and anyone could use that to gain access into your house. You can stay on the ground floor if windows are inside the building but you may still suffer peeping Toms. The same should apply to the first floor especially if you have a balcony through which anyone can climb though. From experience, people who venture into buildings with malicious intent pick units at corners. Especially units that are first after the stairs and a little more tucked than the others. If you can go for a middle house, that would also be good. There is less of a chance that the unit will be targeted.
If you take away nothing else from this list, take this. A good padlock is an investment. Do not trust a street padlock to keep your unit secure. The burglar may gain access but they should work very hard at it. So hard that it takes long enough for someone to notice their intent. Get a good hardened steel or aluminum padlock. The padlock should also be rare and possibly expensive. The vendor of the padlock will determine the quality of the padlock you buy.
- Spare Keys
If you need to have some repairs done then choose a day that you will be home to do it. Handing out your keys to your landlord or caretaker is risky. You never know if they might make copies or use that opportunity to window shop in your house. This is Nairobi and very few people should have access to your house when you are not home. This way if you lose something then your list of suspects is very short. Someone should have your spare key but the question of who should be tackled with caution.
- Lock Door
This is a good albeit an obvious tip. You may think it will be fine to leave your door unlocked because you are merely going one floor up to the roof to hang your clothes. However, a lot can happen in the three minutes it will take to get to the roof and back. As long as your door is out of sight, even for a second, you should leave it locked. You might be safe the first time but someone could be watching this habit and plotting how to take advantage of your cavalier attitude.
You should always remember to leave your windows closed too. If you need to air the house then do it when you are home. One can learn a lot by looking through your window. They could window shop.
Curtains are a good hack. You should get good curtain sheers fro both your door and window. Sometimes the house may get a little too stuffy especially if it is a small poorly ventilated unit. This would necessitate keeping the door open to get some air but then everyone would have a nice view of your valuables.
- Fake It
If the landlord has not installed cameras, you could find a fake camera and install it near your unit. It will not record anything but people will think twice about conducting monkey business near your door. There are dummy cameras on the market going for 1500 shillings or less. If you are taking a trip, you could install a timer for your lights. No one should know that you are not home especially if you are new to the building.
- Befriend the Caretaker
Caretakers are always present in the building, at least for the most part. If someone breaches a door and takes things, the caretaker will be able to hear or see them before they exit the building. The point here is not to befriend the caretaker and invite him for drinks in your house. It is to be friendly with them. Buy a soda every once in a while. Have someone who will look out for you especially if you travel a lot.
It may sound like Nairobi is a war zone but really your experience will depend on how much vigilance you will observe as well as how you choose your neighborhood. The point here is to be proactive about your security and that of your valuables.