Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

The design of buildings, landscaping and outdoor environments can either encourage or discourage crime through three principles: Territoriality, Surveillance and Access Control. 

Prevention Strategies

  • Design spaces to increase natural surveillance.
  • Keep valuables out of sight to disincentivize burglars.
  • Ensure all windows and doors have working locks and deadbolts on all doors. 
  • Use thorny bushes for landscaping next to the house to prevent hiding spots.
  • Demonstrate pride of ownership with regular upkeep.


This is the desire to protect your own territory and respect the territory of others. Create firm boundaries between the public space and your private space through access control. 

When your property has obvious pride of ownership, criminals are less likely to target your house. Upkeep your property and fix any issues immediately, such as broken screens, burnt out lights, loose boards in the fence, etc. 

Lighting is the cheapest form of security. Make sure all doors are brightly lit and there aren't any shadowy spots with easy access to your home.  


  • Is my property used as a short cut?
  • Does my property have an unkempt appearance?
  • Are there seldom-used areas of my property where people loiter?


Criminals do not want to be seen. Place physical features and activities in a manner that maximizes your ability to see your property. This can be achieved through natural and mechanical surveillance considerations. To achieve natural surveillance, curate landscaping that keeps the area open, well-lit and encourages use by tenants. Make sure the landscaping eliminates hiding spots and doesn't block windows or doors. Cameras, mirrors, and security systems are the mechanical surveillance. 


  • Does the landscaping obscure the view of my property from neighboring properties?
  • Are all entrances, exits and parking areas illuminated?
  • Are there areas around windows and doors where a person could hide?

Access control

Properly located entrances, fencing and lighting can discourage crime by restricting movements and increasing perceived risk. It also controls access to potential targets. The control can from the landscaping - using plants, berms, rock and trees - mechanical controls - such as gates and parking permits -  to direct public traffic and block access.  


  • Can people trespass without being seen by others?
  • How many entrances and exits are there on your property?
  • Do people access the property in ways other than intended?