Is a publication brought to you by the Lee’s Summit Police Department’s Public Information Unit. Business eWatch features information regarding regional crime trends effecting businesses and seasonal safety tips.
What if you could prevent a break-in at your business? If you could keep a criminal from ever looking at your property as a potential target? With Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), you can actively reduce the chances of your business “getting hit.” CPTED principles were first studied in the 1960’s. Researchers found several psychological and physical aspects associated with crime prevention. By studying differences in high and low crime areas, behaviorists and criminologists learned, “The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life [within a community]” (National Crime Prevention Institute). Below are some basic CPTED recommendations for increasing security at your place of business.
1. Natural Surveillance – Businesses should create areas of space, where people and activities can easily be observed. This creates a
psychological deterrent to crime by forcing criminals into the “limelight.” Ways to create natural surveillance include using good
interior and exterior lighting after dark, providing benches, tables and chairs, or patio space for your patrons, trimming shrubs/bushes
to 3’ or less and trees 6’ or higher (to prevent someone from hiding behind your landscaping).
2. Natural Access Control – Businesses should clearly define their entryways and ensure entrances are visible, well lit, and overlooked
by windows. You should be able to see who’s coming into your business. A potential criminal should not be able to sneak in unseen,
or access your business through rear or side doors, or loading docks.
Parking Lot Safety
Parking lots are generally considered “high-risk” areas, due to heavy usage and traditionally poor security and design standards. Highest risk parking lots include lots used by younger people, like college campus lots, and 24/7 parking facilities (US Department of Justice).
Parking lot safety is the responsibility of patrons and business owners alike. Business owners should provide good lighting after dark. Lighting is relatively inexpensive when compared with other security measures such as CCTV or parking attendants. Adequate lighting is also an excellent deterrent to crime.
As a rule of thumb, CPTED practitioners recommend uniform lighting, meaning there shouldn’t be any dark spaces within your parking lot. Light should “overlap” space to eliminate potential attackers from hiding in between parking lot lights. Also, lights should illuminate at three footcandles or more, and should light the area without creating a glare.
Signs reminding patrons to lock their cars and take their belongings with them should be placed in parking lots or at store entrances. Lots should be clean and well-kept. A good line of sight should be established from the entrance of the business to the parking lot.
Patrons can increase their safety in parking lots by being aware of their surroundings. Criminals look for easy targets. People walking with their heads down, searching through their purses or talking/texting on their cell phones are easier to surprise and overpower than people walking with their head ups, and greeting others and smiling at them along the way.