CPTED — Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Would a “Peeping Tom” peep through a first floor window with a fully grown rosebush in front of it? Would a “purse-snatcher” snatch a purse in a common area occupied by numerous employees drinking their morning coffee? The likelihood of either scenario taking place is very small due to a concept known as CPTED, which stands for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The “Peeping Tom” would not approach the window with the rosebush because he subconsciously knows rosebushes contain long thorns that could cause him pain and the “purse-snatcher” would pick a less conspicuous location in order to go undetected.
The CPTED concept is a crime prevention philosophy based on the theory that proper design and effective use of the natural environment can lead to a reduction in crime while improving the quality of life. “Natural” not only refers to the crime prevention by-product that comes from normal and routine use of an environment (coffee location), but also the use of nature (rosebush) to help prevent crime. It reduces criminal opportunity and promotes positive social interaction among legitimate users of a specific area.
There are four basic overlapping principles in the CPTED concept:
Natural Surveillance is about seeing and being seen. It occurs when the environment allows opportunity for people engaged in their “normal” behavior to observe the space around them. The idea is to design the placement of physical features, activities, and people in such a way to maximize visibility. Examples of natural surveillance may be a restaurant owner installing large windows overlooking the parking lot or the owner of an apartment complex creating a picnic area for the residents.
Natural Access Control is about limiting the access of an intruder. This can occur by selectively placing entrances and exits, fencing, lighting, and landscaping to control the flow or limit the access of people. Most criminal intruders will try to find a way into an area where they will not be easily observed. Limiting the access and increasing natural surveillance may keep them out altogether or, at the very least, mark them as an intruder. Examples of natural access control may be shrubbery lining a sidewalk or a fence separating two pieces of property.
Natural Territorial Reinforcement is about clearly defining private space. Private space creates a sense of ownership. Where there is ownership, there is pride. Where there is pride, there is a desire to protect. Owners have a vested interest and, therefore, are more likely to question intruders or report them to the police. Examples of natural territorial reinforcement may be a security fence surrounding a parking lot or decorative planters outside an apartment unit.
Maintenance. Well maintained property reduces the likelihood of criminal activity, whereas improper maintenance invites criminal activity. Simply replacing light bulbs, disposing of trash, lawn grooming, and in general, making a property look as though someone cares, can pay huge dividends.
The goal of using the CPTED philosophy is to improve the quality of life by designing and building a safer, more productive, and user-friendly environment.
If you are remodeling, changing landscaping or building new, the Kenosha Police Department Crime Prevention Unit can offer suggestions to improve the safety of your home or business through a free site survey. To schedule a survey, call (262) 657-3937, or email at [email protected].