Mark Mahaffey
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What Is CPTED? (pronounced “sep-ted”) is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The proper design and effective use of the “built” environment that will lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life.  It is the use of high quality aesthetically appealing built environment not for crime prevention per se, but good physical design based on four strategies.  Access Control, Surveillance, Territoriality, Activity Support.

Natural Access Control

Creates the perception among offenders that there is risk associated with the property because of the denying or restricting of access to targets and the property. Access control also helps to regulate the movement of legitimate users and enhance their perceptions of personal safety.

Perimeter security controls are used to prevent, detect and respond to unauthorized access to a facility. Limiting points of entry into a building or complex, using structures, (e.g. sidewalks, lights) to guide visitors to main entrances and reception areas. Uses of security zones to restrict movement and differentiate between areas and to separate: Public areas, Semi Private Areas, Private Areas.

Natural Surveillance

Is the organizing of physical features, activities, and people to enhance visibility which creates the risk of detection for potential offenders, and increased perceptions of safety for legitimate users. People feel safer in areas where they are visible to others and conversely offenders prefer locations that are not. So the primary aim is not to keep intruders out (although that is the goal and may have that effect) but rather , to keep intruders under observation.

This can be achieved by directing the “flow of activities” thus providing more observers near a potential crime area who can then report or discourage illicit behavior or actions. Windows, lighting, and removal of obstructions can be placed to improve sight lines from within buildings.


Is how people keep others away or dictate their behavior in areas where they perceive that they have the authority to control. CPTED interventions encourage the controlling of the environment and defend it against misuse, abuse, or any potential damage. This can be accomplished through architecture and design that clearly defines specific areas for individuals, groups, or specific land use activities. Being able to defend an environmental  area physically is not enough on it’s own, you need the feeling of pride and ownership from residents/users to “buy in” and will actually perform and cooperate in this role.

Activity Support

Any activity in a location so that individuals become a part of the natural surroundings that will provide “natural surveillance” such as parks, pools, playgrounds, community rooms.  An active place that is enjoyed safely, increasing the use of the space, adding value to the space, and discouraging actions of non-legitimate users. Caution must be exercised in this area due to the homeless problems of the day, which means these areas need to be monitored and rules enforced as the law allows especially in private or semi-private areas.

To see if CPTED can help improve your properties of if you have any questions or needs related to Security, Fire, Life Safety, Access Control, Video Surveillance, or Virtual Guard or Remote Video Monitoring please contact us: 760-781-5700/858-566-5700/800-988-2378 OR or respond through this site.