Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)


        CPTED (pronounced as sep-ted) is the acronym for a crime prevention mindset called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The philosophy behind CPTED is society can design and/or modify man-made and natural environments so that criminal opportunities are eliminated or reduced. This philosophy can also impact the fear of crime so that society maintains or improves the quality of our society and our lives. 

        So how can this help someone prevent crime? CPTED focuses on three principles: Natural surveillance, Access control and Territoriality.

        Natural surveillance refers to how much visibility is available from a particular location. Can you see trouble coming before it’s too late?

        A storeowner who has the windows of his shop covered with advertising will not see someone approaching the store until they are already inside. A police officer driving by on patrol can’t see inside either. 

        The easiest way to improve the natural surveillance in this example would be to remove anything obstructing the exterior windows.

        Access control refers to ways someone can get on or into a particular piece of property. Lets keep with the example of the storeowner to illustrate the logic behind this principle. Obviously the storeowner doesn’t want customers coming in from both the front and back doors. That would be very distracting. So how does the storeowner incorporate the next principle?

        The back door is locked and there is nothing on the door indicating that it is an entrance. The front door is open and may have a sign indicating the store is “Open”. If someone wants to buy something they have to use the front door. 

        Territoriality refers to the psychology associated with control of “your space”. Signs, fences and walls (to name a few) are used to let people know what space is yours. For example, a shop might have an “employees only” sign hanging on an inside door. An employee would most likely challenge customers entering through this door.

        With these principles in mind take a close look at your home or business.

        Perhaps trimming down the bushes at the front of your home would eliminate any places a burglar could hide while trying to open a window. Lighting could be installed around your home to increase the visibility at night.

        Maybe a high chain link fence surrounding your business would help keep the graffiti artists from vandalizing the exterior.

        A “No Trespassing" sign lets strangers know they are not welcome on a particular property.

        The principles of CPTED can work for you. It just takes some thought. Be sure to combine CPTED with a traditional “target hardening” strategy (installing alarm systems, using quality locks, doors etc) for comprehensive physical security of your property.