CPTED for Securing Your Property

Posted On: March 6, 2019


Have you ever heard of CPTED? It is “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.”

“We all respond to environmental cues,” says Nathan Burnett. “The good news is criminals do, too.”

Burnett is the president of Watchtower Security. He was on a NAHMA panel about security this week. He laid out major benefits of CPTED.

  • Reduction in crime potential
  • Perceived greater safety and security
  • Improvement/beautification of physical environment
  • Improved quality of life
  • Revitalization and preservation of neighborhoods and business districts
  • Increased sense of residents and occupancy rates

CPTED Principles

Burnett explained four areas where CPTED can prevent crime on property.

  1. Natural Surveillance: The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) refers to this as a “design principle that maximizes the visibility of people, parking areas, vehicles, and site activities. Strategies involve the strategic placement of windows, doors, walkways, parking lots, and vehicular routes.” Burnett’s CPTED examples include landscaping, open stairs and placing mailboxes at the center of the complex.
  2. Natural Access Controls: Examples include mechanical gates and using the geography to limit access. NCPC describes it as “designing streets, sidewalks, building entrances, and neighborhood gateways to clearly indicate transitions from the public environment to semi-private and private areas.”
  3. Natural Territorial Reinforcement: CPTED involves creating boundaries. Burnett says signage, landscaping, and fencing are the best ways to define boundaries. NCPC says “This helps users display signs of “ownership” that send “hands off” messages to would-be offenders.”
  4. Maintenance and Management: An active and engaged staff can help this CPTED component tremendously. Also, proper upkeep and proactive maintenance like fixing holes in fences or repairing lights on property can go a long way to help prevent crime. NCPC says, this “helps signal that a location or facility is well cared for and therefore would be inhospitable to criminal.”

“Print out a map and place a pin every time an incident occurs. This will help identify problem areas that need to be addressed.”


From Henrico.us: “this multi-family housing community installed fencing to help control access through the site. This provides Territorial Reinforcement by defining the property lines and simultaneously provides Access Control. The iron fence also provides Natural Surveillance opportunities.”

More CPTED Examples

Jenny DeSilva is director of Blueprint Housing Solutions. She talked about how to utilize CPTED. Options include:

  • Grounds Cleanup
  • Inventory of high value assets weekly or monthly
  • Audit of lighting conditions
  • Creating property boundaries and access control walkthrough

“Throwing money at crime problems is usually a waste of time,” DeSilva says. The goal, she believes, should be to “disrupt the convenience of crime” and also “disrupt the predictability.”

The panel, which also included Tammy Fotinos from Southwest Housing Compliance Corporation, discussed a number of ways for Property Owners to implement CPTED. For example, you can track statistically how often exterior lights are getting knocked out, thereby “disrupting the predictability.”

Curb appeal helps deter crime, and owners can prepare a crime or issue tracking map of the property. Print out a map and place a pin every time an incident occurs. This will help identify problem areas that need to be addressed.

On-Site Security

The panel also suggests paying for high-performing security rather than what is cheaper. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Learn more about CPTED.


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