Crime Prevention Thru Environmental Design

Enhance the safety of your home or business using the environment to manipulate human behavior.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is based upon the principle that the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life. 

The thrust of CPTED is that the physical environment can be manipulated to produce behavioral effects that will reduce crime.  There are three overlapping strategies in CPTED:

1. Natural Access Control:

Naturally controlling access to a site.  This can be achieved by ensuring that entrances are visible, clearly defined, well lit, and overlooked by windows.  


The use of landscape prevents easy access to a rooftop as well as deterrent to grafitti

2. Natural Surveillance: 

People using a designated space for a legitimate activity (ie:  pedestrians in a neighborhood, people in a park, etc.)  These people offer natural surveillance, which increases the likelihood that criminal activity will be observed.  Criminals are more likely to commit their crimes in an environment where they can get away with it unobserved.


A basement computer lab withno natural observation


Improved natural observation of thesame lab by the addition of windows

 

Territorial Reinforcement: 

Transitional zones that indicate movement from public space to semi-public space to private space.  In a residential setting, the sidewalk represents public space, stairs to a home indicate semi-public space, a covered porch and beyond represent private space.  If these symbolic or psychological barriers are to succeed in controlling access by marking specific space for specific individuals, offenders must perceive intrusion will elicit protective territorial responses from those who have legitimate access.  Territory must be clearly defined and well maintained to reinforce ownership.


This photo clearly demarks public from private space with the use of a fence.

CPTED Strategies At Work:

  1. A store that is attractive, well-lighted, and open is more appealing to honest customers and employees.  A dirty, poorly managed store reflects little pride on the part of the honest employee which reduces territorial concern and promotes avoidance behaviors.
  2. Reduce the height of gondolas, shelves and displays to enhance visibility throughout the store.
  3. Remove large signs from windows that hide the cashier.  This reduces the risk of robbery and increases the possibility that, if a robbery does occur, the robber can be seen.
  4. Strategically place employee work stations to increase the perception of surveillance, improve customer convenience and employee productivity.
  5. Funnel all pedestrian traffic through one entrance that is easily observed by employees. 
  6. Keep all shrubs trimmed at 24” or lower and remove landscaping that is within 6’ of any door as it provides a point for ambush.
  7. Use signs to deter robbers; example:  “No more than $50 in register”, “This Business Monitored By Surveillance Equipment”  In order to be effective, signs must be truthful.

CPTED Tips for the home

  1. Keep the lower branches of spruce trees trimmed up to the 6’ level. 
  2. Hedges should be trimmed down to a level of 24”. 
  3. Remove hedges and trees within 6’ of your doorway that offer concealment.  Ultimately, your neighbor across the street should be able to look out their window and see your front door and other possible access points at the front of your house.
  4. Remove large landscaping rocks that are close to windows.  Often these rocks are used to break into a home or to vandalize.
  5. Plant gardens next to bedroom windows.  A ‘peeping Tom’ may not look out of place leaning against a window with no barrier; he looks very suspicious standing in your flower box!
  6. Use hostile landscaping to deter burglars (and youth) from going in and out of windows.  Thorny plants such as roses and raspberry bushes work well in Alaska.
  7. Trim or remove trees that offer access to upper level bedroom windows.
  8. Proper lighting around your house deters unwelcome visitors.  Motion sensing lights are cost effective and energy efficient; when motion is detected, they illuminate for a few minutes and automatically turn off.  Photocell lights are also an option; they illuminate at dusk and automatically turn themselves off at dawn.  Position lights so they don’t create a glare to people passing by.

Each year, Anchorage Police respond to 1500-2000 burglaries and well over 300 robberies.  Don’t become a victim—use these recommendations to increase the safety and security of your home or business.