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Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)

What is CPTED? The official book definition is "the proper design and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life." It is simply a goal to reduce opportunities for crime that may be inherent in the design of structures or in the design of neighborhoods. In other words, make your home or neighborhood unappealing to burglars and thugs. Cities and Counties throughout the country are adopting CPTED ordinances requiring site plan reviews with crime prevention in mind. Law enforcement officers who are specially trained in CPTED are now working closely with Planners, Architects, City Officials, and Educators to ensure the proper design of structures, schools, and neighborhoods. These experts know how the design and use of the environment can control human or criminal behavior and reduce the fear of crime. They used natural means such as landscaping to deter criminals. Access control, natural surveillance, different aspects of lighting and its effects on human behavior, all deter crime. Many landscape specialists incorporate CPTED into their layout & design of landscapes. Each of the following CPTED strategies are low cost guidelines that they apply to reduce the fear and incidence of crime and improve the quality of life.

1. Natural Access Control guides people entering & leaving a space through the placement of entrances, exits, fences, landscaping & lighting. Access control can decrease opportunities for criminal activity by denying criminals access to potential targets & creating a perception of risk for would-be offenders. Walkways & landscaping should direct visitors to the proper entrance & away from private areas. The design should create a perception of risk for would-be offenders. Walkways should be installed in locations safe for pedestrians & keep them unobscured.

2. Natural Surveillance is the placement of physical features, activities & people in a way that maximizes visibility. A potential criminal is less likely to attempt a crime if he or she is at risk of being observed. At the same time, we are likely to feel safer when we can see & be seen. The landscaping should be selected and installed to allow unobstructed views of doors & windows. The front door should be at least partially visible from the street. Shrubs & bushes near windows should not restrict full visibility of the property. Sidewalks & all areas of the yard should be well lit.

3. Territorial Reinforcement is use of physical attributes that express ownership such as fences, signage, landscaping, lighting, pavement designs, etc. Defined property lines and clear distinctions between private & public spaces are examples of the application of territoriality. Front porches or stoops should create a transitional area between the street & the home. Property lines & private areas should be defined with plantings, fences or retaining walls. Use thorny plants along fence lines and under windows to deter access by intruders.

4. Maintenance is a well maintained home, building or community, and creates a sense of ownership. A well kept area tends to make someone feel like they will be observed by neighbors or business owners as it is obvious people care about the area. Keep trees & shrubs trimmed back from windows, doors & walkways. Keep shrubs trimmed to 3 feet & prune the lower branches of trees up to 7 feet. Use exterior lighting at night & keep it in working order. Keep litter & trash picked up & the yard neat & free of items that might attract theft.


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