Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – CPTED

CPTED is the use of design to eliminate or reduce criminal behaviour. Using CPTED principles at your home or business can make it more difficult for criminals and reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Small things like ensuring trees and bushes around your home are not overgrown so criminals can use them as cover, making sure that doors and windows are unobstructed so criminals can be easily seen by you or your neighbours, and installing proper lighting that is well-maintained all contribute to making your home and community safer.

You can reduce the risk to your family, home and valuable contents by implementing some home security safety tips. Every home is unique, and every family is different. Talk with members of your family and assess your home security strategies. Walk around your home and property, making note of any concerns. Is the security in your home sufficient to deter a thief? Will your present security measures increase the chances of the culprit being caught? Following these tips will increase safety for you and your family.

Door Security

  • Install a good deadbolt lock
  • Chain locks are an inadequate security measure. Instead install a wide angle peep-hole so you do not have to open the door to see the person. If you have children consider including a second peep-hole at a child’s height
  • All hinges should be accessible from the interior of the home only
  • Ensure your door is equipped with non-removable hinge pins
  • Most doors are installed with screws less than 1″ in length. This results in a door that appears secure but is relatively weak and prone to being kicked in. Door kick break-ins are common, so door screws should be at least 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches long

Window Security

  • Sliding doors and windows can be “lifted” out of the tracks with relative ease. Installing screws or a blocking device above the sliding door or window will help to prevent it from being lifted off the tracks
  • Install a snug piece of wood in the track of sliding patio doors
  • Install a pin into the frame of a sliding window to prevent it from being pushed open
  • Glass within 40 inches of a door lock can be broken and a criminal can reach inside to unlock the door. The security of windows can be improved by adding a polycarbonate panel. Call South Simcoe Police or glass specialist for details.

Other Tips

  • Instead of hiding a key around the outside of your home, give a spare key to a trusted neighbour
  • Installing a good padlock on garages will provide better security
  • Lights on timers are good for giving the impression that your home is occupied whether you are home or away. Install lights on timers in different rooms and have the lights go off at varying times
  • Avoid putting your name on the gate, a sign, or on the mailbox. This gives thieves a chance to look your name up in the phone book and call you under a false pretense
  • Cut back any tree limbs that might help a thief get access to any second storey windows
  • Be sure to lock up your tools and ladders in the shed or the garage. Your accessible tools can be used to break into your own home
  • Be sure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

While You Are Away

  • Put lights on timers to give the impression someone is home
  • Tell a trusted neighbour your vacation plans and provide emergency contact numbers
  • Do not leave notes or messages on doors or your answering machine that would indicate you are away
  • Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway
  • Keep small valuables in a safe deposit box
  • Remember to suspend newspaper delivery
  • Have someone mow your lawn/shovel your driveway if necessary
  • Keep a record of your valuables. Identify your property by engraving an identifying mark, such as your driver’s licence number, on the property. Proper identification may deter thieves and makes it easier for the police to return personal property if recovered. Keep your insurance policies current
  • Always think of your personal safety. Upon returning home, scan the front of your home
  • Use high beams upon entering the garage and have a good look around before you leave the safety of your car

Vacation Checklist

  • You have stopped all deliveries
  • Mail is being held or picked up by a trusted neighbour
  • You have arranged to have someone take care of your yard/shovel your driveway
  • You have timers on interior and exterior lights
  • You have let a trusted neighbour know you’re going away, when you will return and left a contact number in case of emergency
  • Shades and blinds are at their normal positions

Preventing Vehicle Theft

  • Do not leave your vehicle running while unattended
  • Maintain control of your vehicle keys at all times
  • Always lock your vehicle, even while in your driveway
  • When possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage
  • Don’t leave keys hanging inside the door, especially if you can see them from outside
  • Be a good neighbour. Report any suspicious activities in and around your neighbourhood

If a crime has occurred

  • DO NOT enter your home – the criminal may still be inside
  • Use a neighbour’s phone to call the police
  • TRY NOT to touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence
  • Note the licence plate and descriptors of any suspicious vehicle(s) or person(s) and the direction of travel, if known

Apartment Building Security

As a tenant

  • Do not permit someone you don’t know enter the building
  • Never leave an external door propped open
  • Put only your first initial on the directory
  • Get to know your neighbours
  • Use building facilities during active times
  • Report suspicious activity

As a landlord

  • Post signs near the main doors; on the outside: “We cannot open the door to strangers.” On the inside: “Do not open the door to strangers.”
  • Facilitate introductions for new residents
  • Consider starting a Neighbourhood Watch Program

Safety in Underground Parking Lots

  • Be aware of someone following you into the underground parking area
  • Always check for suspicious people or vehicles before entering the garage or leaving your vehicle. If you see something suspicious notify security or police
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle
  • Always lock your vehicle
  • Check your vehicle before you get in
  • Once inside your vehicle, lock the doors

Elevator Safety

  • Observe passengers in the elevator. If you do not feel comfortable, wait for the next one
  • If possible, be the last to enter the elevator and be the last to indicate your floor
  • Stand with your back to the sidewall, near the control panel
  • If attacked, press as many floor buttons as possible
  • If someone suspicious enters the elevator, make your exit at the same time

Safety in Laundry Rooms and Other Building Amenities:

  • Time your trips during active periods when others are present or use the buddy system
  • If you must go alone, try to tell someone where you’ll be
  • Look into the room before entering it
  • Report suspicious activity to security or police

If you discover your unit has been entered:

  • Do not enter – the criminal may still be inside
  • Call 911 from your cell phone or a neighbour’s phone
  • Advise the landlord or security
  • Do not touch anything until police arrive

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch is a program supported by police and maintained by the community. It’s simple – neighbours looking out for one another to help prevent crime and keep communities safe. South Simcoe Police can assist you in starting a Neighbourhood Watch Program in your area. Here’s how:

  • Contact South Simcoe Police and ask for a Community Services Officer
  • The officer will help organize a meeting with people in your community
  • If there’s support for the program, a subsequent meeting will be held to determine an overall coordinator and several block captains

Once the leadership is established, police can help facilitate regular meetings and help organize community events