Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED (pronounced sep-ted), helps us to create healthy, safe communities through well planned environmental design. The proper design and effective use of the built environment can help reduce the likelihood of your home being targeted for a crime.

CPTED Strategies

Natural Surveillance

  • Design the space to allow visibility by legitimate users (your neighbors) and keep possible intruders under observation 
  • Make the offender’s behavior more easily noticeable 
  • Examples:
    • Windowed Stairwells
    • Provide a good visual connection between residential and/or commercial units and public environments such as streets, common areas, parks, sidewalks, parking areas and alleys.

In the picture shown here, the plant growth is blocking the view from the window to the street.


Territorial Reinforcement

  • Territorial reinforcement is marking territorial control of a space while discouraging potential offenders who perceive this control and avoid it.
  • Includes design elements as sidewalks, landscaping, and porches that to help distinguish between public and private areas and helps users exhibit signs of “ownership” that send “hands off” messages to would-be offenders.
  • Accentuate building entrances with architectural elements to guide visitors and announce the transition from public space to private space
  • Use front porches and stoops between the street/sidewalk and residences to indicate transitions

Natural Access Control

  • Natural access control employs elements like doors, shrubs, fences and gates to deny admission to a crime target and to create a perception among offenders that there is a risk in selecting the target.
  • The primary goal of an access control strategy is to deny access to a crime target.
  • Physical and mechanical means of access control, like locks, bars and alarms, can supplement natural access control measures if needed.
    • Something to consider: If 76% of house burglaries occur through forced entry on rear doors, why is it we always have our biggest and best locks on the front door?
  • A fence around a neighborhood playground protects children from wandering off and inhibits entry of potential offenders.
  • Use fences, walkways and landscaping to direct visitors to the proper entrance and away from private areas.
  • Use signs to direct visitors to appropriate buildings, entrances and parking.


  • Lighting is an important element in any site design. Whether a single house or a shopping mall, appropriate lighting techniques help people to feel more comfortable with their surroundings.
  • Lights should provide clear paths for movement and highlight entryways without creating harsh effects or shadowy hiding places
  • Light shadowy areas and corners with bright, white light and illuminate doorways.
  • Keep pedestrian lighting out of trees.


  • Maintenance, including cleaning, repairing and landscaping needs to be performed routinely to encourage use of the space for the intended purpose and discourage abnormal and criminal use.
  • Maintenance sends a clear signal that someone cares about the space and is likely to defend it against intruders or vandals.
  • Important maintenance measures:
    • Keep all structures, including fencing and walkways, clean and in good repair.
    • Keep all litter and trash picked up at all times
    • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed back from windows, doors and walkways.

Keep shrubs trimmed to 2 feet and prune lower branches of trees up to 6 feet

  • Properly selected, installed and maintained landscaping allows for unobstructed views of otherwise vulnerable doors and windows

Overgrowth of trees and bushes can block natural surveillance and also act to deaden sound to reduce neighbors from hearing a break-in. 

Proper upkeep signals that the location is well cared for and therefore inhospitable to criminal activity. This includes mowing grass, trimming trees and bushes, repairing broken glass and blinds, picking up trash and painting over graffiti immediately.


Post address numbers and make them easy to see.