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Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) suggests that the form and arrangements of buildings and of open spaces can either encourage or discourage crime. CPTED attempts to reduce crime and the fear of crime by reducing criminal opportunity and fostering positive social interaction among the users of a space.    

CPTED Defined - The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of crime and the incidence of crime, and to improvement in the quality of life.  The three elements of CPTED are Territoriality, Surveillance, and Access Control. When used together, these elements strengthen total premise security and personal safety.

Territoriality is a persons' desire to protect territory that they feel is their own and have a certain respect for the territory of others.  The extent to which someone will defend territory depends on their personal investment in or responsibility for that property.  For example, a homeowner is likely to risk his/her life to defend his home against an intruder who is threatening their spouse or child.

Here are some economical steps you can take to increase the visibility of your business:

  • Clearly define your property through the use of natural or manmade borders
  • Business and Community Watch Programs

Surveillance: Criminals do not want to be seen. To defend your property you must be able to see any illegal acts taking place. Placing physical features, activities, and people in ways that maximize the ability to see what's going on discourages crime.

The following tips can help you maximize the visibility to your business or residence:

  • Improve indoor and outdoor lighting.
  • Illuminate all entrances, exits, and parking areas
  • Clear windows of all clutter
  • Trim and maintain all landscaping
  • Place restrooms in high traffic areas   
  • Involve the entire community in your surveillance efforts

Access Control: Properly located entrances, exits, fencing, and lighting can direct both foot and automobile traffic in ways that discourage crime.  Access Control denies or restricts access to a crime target, and it also increases the perceived risks of the offender by controlling or restricting their movement.

Listed are some ways to help you control access to your

  • Reduce the number of entrances and exits
  • Have guests/visitors sign in
  • Fence or rope off problem areas

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department encourages its community members to do their part to establishing a safe and secure environment by incorporating these three basic elements into their security practices. 


If you would like a police officer to conduct a Security Survey of your home or business please contact your

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
601 East Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202