Use Environmental Design to Help Prevent Crime

Orangeville, ON (Harold Doan and Sons Ltd.) CPTED is the proper design and effective use of the built environment. It can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life. It reduces opportunities for crime by the design of structures or neighborhoods. In other words, make your home or neighborhood unappealing to burglars and thugs.

Cities and Counties throughout the country are adopting CPTED ordinances. They call for site plan reviews with crime prevention in mind. CPTED trained Law Enforcement Officers work with Planners, Architects, City Officials, and Educators. They help to ensure the proper design of structures, schools, and neighborhoods. A well designed environment can control criminal behavior. It can also reduce the fear of crime. Using natural means such as landscaping is an effective deterrent to criminals. Access control, natural surveillance, and different aspects of lighting all deter crime.

Many landscape specialists incorporate CPTED into their layout & design of landscapes. Each of the following CPTED strategies are low cost guidelines. They can reduce the fear and incidence of crime and improve the quality of life.

1. Natural Access Control guides people entering & leaving a space. This includes the placement of entrances, exits, fences, landscaping & lighting. Access control can decrease opportunities for criminal activity. It denies criminals access to potential targets. It also 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. Proper design installs walkways in locations safe for pedestrians & keeps them unobscured.

2. Natural Surveillance places physical features, activities & people in a way that maximizes visibility. A potential criminal is less likely to attempt a crime in a high visibility setting. At the same time, we are likely to feel safer. The landscaping should allow unobstructed views of doors & windows. At least part of the front door should be 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 the use of physical attributes that express ownership. This includes fences, signage, landscaping, lighting and pavement designs. Defined property lines and clear distinctions between private & public spaces are examples. Front porches or stoops create a transitional area between the street & the home. Define property lines & private areas with plantings, fences or retaining walls. Use thorny plants along fence lines and under windows to deter access by intruders.

4. A well maintained home, building or community creates a sense of ownership. A well kept area tends to make someone feel like they will be observed by neighbors or business owners. 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.

5. For more information visit CPTED Ontario (

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