Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED (“sep-ted”), is an approach to deterring criminal behaviour through designing and defining the intended use of a property, residence, or business as well as helping establish who it is for and what counts as appropriate or inappropriate behaviour in it.

Generally speaking, criminals look for opportunities to commit their crimes with the least possibility of detection or getting caught.

We should also consider risk versus reward.  The greater the reward, the criminal might consider taking a greater risk.

Home or Business Property Self Audit

Crime Prevention - Home Business Self Audit


Three things need to be present for a crime to occur.

  • The offender
  • Opportunity
  • A victim

We can decrease our chances of becoming a victim of a crime by reducing the opportunity.  We can reduce the opportunity by employing the CPTED principles as highlighted below.

There are three basic overlapping principles at the core of CPTED:

  1. Natural Surveillance
  2. Natural Access Control
  3. Territorial Reinforcement


The ability to see and be seen, or hear or be heard, by others

Good sight lines and reasons to watch others as they go about their activities make legitimate users of a space feel like if they were threatened, someone might intervene on their behalf. “Built-in” eyes and ears also increase a criminal’s risk of being caught (or at least make them think they will be).

Surveillance can be natural (open sightlines, visually permeable fencing), mechanical (cameras), or organizational (parking lot attendant).

Examples of Surveillance


  • Security lighting
  • Window orientation
  • Porch and walkway placement
  • Reducing visual obstructions such as high fences or untrimmed landscaping
  • Transparent fencing, barriers, and enclosures


  • Security cameras
  • Active monitoring
  • Recording

For Businesses

  • Situating staff and greeters where they can monitor high-risk areas

Access Control

A means of guiding pedestrians and vehicles along desired routes and pathways in order to increase natural surveillance and establish boundaries

The goal of access control is not to cut pedestrians and drivers off from areas of their own community. Rather, it is a way to establish expectations along various routes and help people differentiate between what is public versus private space. For instance, someone attempting to enter a building from the side when spatial cues clearly direct them to the front signals to on-lookers the visitor’s behavior might be suspicious.

Access control can be natural (berms, street trees, paving), mechanical (fencing and gates), or organizational (visitor sign-in policies).

Wayfinding is a powerful – and yet, often underestimated – agent of access control. Wayfinding measures can resemble something as basic as a directional sign or carry on a more creative appeal. Color-coded or numbered elements, light pole banners, and ground markings are just a few examples of the latter.

Examples of Access Control


  • Fencing, walls, boulders
  • Berms, ravines, motes
  • Pavement markings
  • Groundcover
  • Wayfinding signage, colors
  • Defensive landscaping, street trees, shrub lines
  • Grade changes, steps
  • “Soft” traffic calming measures


  • Incorporating security fencing and gates
  • Adding locks and barriers to entry points
  • Surveillance equipment at access points

For Businesses

  • Reception personnel at entrances and exits
  • Identification procedures for entry

Territorial Reinforcement

The use of spatial elements such as fencing, surface treatments, art, architectural elements or style, signage, and landscaping to make one site distinguishable from the next and to express ownership by its intended users

Once boundaries are established and clearly communicated, a sense of ownership, pride, stewardship, and collective efficacy can thrive, making the intended users of a place more empowered to defend it and those within it.

In the spirit of building cohesion, it is important to note that design features alone cannot produce a sense of ownership among residents, but that it takes residents of a community working together to uphold shared values.

Examples of Territorial Reinforcement


  • Property maintenance
  • Seasonal decorations
  • “Yard art”
  • Public art
  • Notices of pets, weapons


  • Roadblocks or closures
  • Property-defining or access-denying barriers, such as symbolic fencing
  • Signage expressing ownership

For Businesses

  • Watch groups
  • Parking regulations
  • Facilities for specific age groups and other target populations
  • Porches and decks that are clearly used

CPTED Suggestions

Although not all of the following are budget-friendly, some of the easiest things that we can do to reduce our chances of becoming a victim of theft or break and enters are:

  • Keep all doors and windows to your home, outbuildings, and vehicles closed and locked at all times.
  • Install solid core exterior access doors with deadbolts and properly installed strike plates..
  • Install a locking bar on sliding patio doors.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight.
  • Don’t leave your garage door open all day and don’t leave your garage door opener in your vehicle while parked outside your residence.
  • Install motion-activated lighting around your home to eliminate dark areas.
  • Install a video surveillance system and know how to use it.
  • Install an alarm system.
  • Keep shrubbery trimmed and away from windows that may obstruct anyone seeing if a criminal is at your home or business.  Provide an unobstructed view of the area around your property.
  • Consider planting thorny landscaping around lower windows.
  • Keep all sheds and outbuildings locked and secure and try to situate them where they are visible from the home.
  • Make sure backyards are fenced in and access points to your backyard have gates with locks on them.

Simple changes such as these can help make your home or business less of a target to criminals.


For more detailed information on how you can make your property more secure check out the following link:

Ontario CPTED Home Security Tips and Audit Printable PDF

LaSalle Police Service Home or Business Property Self Audit Printable PDF

CPTED Canada Website