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Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Posted by Blake Mitchell on Nov 14, 2018

For criminals to commit a crime, they must have the desire, the ability and the opportunity to do it. In an effort to minimize the threat, many law enforcement agencies promote the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTED means designing the physical environment of a property in such a way that it reduces the incidence of crime, as well as improves the quality of life in the community. This theory is based on four principles: natural access control, natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement and maintenance.

Natural access control incorporates the use of fences, lighting, signs and walkways to clearly guide people and vehicles to and from proper entrances. The purpose is to direct the flow of traffic while decreasing the opportunity for crime. For example, lobbies can be designed with maze entrances to cut off a straight-line access to a potential target, like a cashier.

Natural surveillance is based on the theory that a person is less likely to commit a crime if they think they will be seen doing it. Keeping areas well-lit, eliminating hiding spots, and planting low, thorny hedges around windows can make potential offenders feel they are being watched.

The goal of territorial reinforcement is to create a clear distinction between public and private property. This gives occupants a sense of ownership, which in turn, can give them the confidence to challenge someone who doesn’t belong on the property. On that same note, intruders will have a harder time blending in. Some ways to achieve territorial reinforcement are implementing a visitor badging system and ensuring security signage is clearly visible at all entrances.

The final principle, maintenance factor, is based on what security professionals refer to as the “Broken Window Theory.” This is the idea that one broken window will lead vandals to break another. Because a vandalized area is more enticing to higher levels of crime, a property should be well-maintained.

The use of CPTED principles are even more effective when used in conjunction with traditional forms of security, like a remote video surveillance system. Trained security operators watch surveillance cameras in real time. If they see suspicious activity, they can activate an on-site speaker warning and call local police to help deter live crime in progress.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design strategies are based on the principle of altering the physical design of a property, whether it’s an apartment complex, shopping center or other type of commercial real estate, to deter criminal activity. It’s impossible to make a building completely crime-proof, but CPTED can go a long way in making is a safe environment.

If you would like more information on how remote video surveillance can help protect your commercial property, contact us.