OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — An Oklahoma City apartment complex is undergoing a multi-million dollar makeover, and the redesign isn't just for looks. It's a unique way to prevent crime.
Indigo Apartment Homes has been working with the Oklahoma City Police Department to improve safety by making some changes to buildings.
Weidner Apartment Homes bought the complex about a year ago.
"The first thing we noticed was safety was something that was highly neglected here," said Rachel Bush, who oversees Indigo through Weidner Apartment Homes. "So immediately, we wanted to do something about it. We first did landscaping – trimming the trees back, making sure bushes were at a low place."
It's one of the ways property owners can reduce crime through environmental design.
"Thieves can hide out, drug deals can be exchanged behind bushes, and now everything is exposed and creates a feeling like you’re being watched and observed," said MSgt. Robert Skalla, community relations officer with the OCPD Hefner Division.
Indigo is also installing new LED lighting on the outside of the buildings.
"If a suspect is more likely to be described and seen, they’re less likely to commit their crimes," MSgt. Skalla said.
Improvements to individual apartments are also important. Door frames have been replaced, and sturdier doors have been installed. High-quality dead bolts help prevent thieves from getting inside as well.
"This door here will be very, very difficult to kick in," said Skalla. "In fact, people are going to see all the changes, and the thief is going to go somewhere else."
Residents can already see how little things make a big difference in everyday life.
"They literally would not deliver pizza here, because they used to be held up at gunpoint," Bush said. "So simple solutions, and now we get pizza delivery."
Skalla finds the improvements encouraging.
"It’s why we do our job as police officers, to make a difference and to provide a safe, secure environment where people can raise their families and live productively," he said.
He says more apartments need to implement these strategies.
"The crime rate will go down, public safety increases, and at the end of the day the profit margin will probably increase for that ownership as well," said Skalla.
Apartment complexes that are interested in making some of these changes can contact their local police department for more guidance.