A Building Security Checklist for Crime Prevention
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a set of design principles used to discourage crime. The concept is simple: Buildings and properties are designed to prevent damage from the force of the elements and natural disasters; they should also be designed to prevent crime.
The four elements of CPTED are Natural Surveillance, Territorial Reinforcement, Natural Access Control, and Maintenance. My series of CPTED articles delve into each one of these elements in some detail.
This checklist can be printed and used in conjunction with those articles to implement CPTED at your facility. Although every item on this list may not apply to your particular space, you can use these principles to improve anything from a home office to a high-rise building.
Criminals thrive on anonymity. They do not like to be seen or recognized, so they will normally choose situations where they can hide and easily escape. Natural surveillance, then, is simply arranging your property for maximum visibility.
Natural Surveillance Checklist:
- Windows signs should cover no more than 10% of the window surface
- Interior of the space should be visible from the sidewalk or street
- Interior furniture and displays should be no higher than 5' to maintain visibility
- Exterior parking lots should be well lit so that people can be recognized from 25' away
- Exterior parking lots should be visible from inside the space
- Street and/or sidewalk should be visible from inside the space
- All entrances should be visible from within the space
- Nonworking surveillance cameras should be repaired or removed
- Interior lighting should remain on at night
- Bushes should be no higher than 36"
- Trees should be no higher than 7'
The purpose of Territorial Reinforcement is to create a clear distinction between public and private property. This is important for two reasons: legitimate occupants have a sense of ownership and will notice people who don't belong; intruders, on the other hand, will have a hard time blending in.
Territorial Reinforcement Checklist:
- Property lines should be well marked by fences, shrubbery, short walls or similar means
- Receptionist/cash register/or greeter should be positioned to screen all people entering the space
Natural Access Control
Criminals like to feel that they are in control as they enter and exit an area. When they are in control, they have a low perception of risk, since they believe they are able to move about unnoticed. However, this sense of control can be denied by limiting and clearly marking the approaches to buildings and properties, thereby channeling visitors into a defined area. Natural Access Control is the use of building and landscaping features to guide people as they enter and exit a space.
Natural Access Control Checklist:
- Walkways, landscaping, and driveways should lead visitors to a controlled entrance
- Access to the roof should be secured
- Exterior door hinges should not be accessible from outside
- Exterior doors should be locked with deadbolts
- Deadbolts should have a minimum 1" throw and the strike plates should be anchored to the door frame
- All keys should be accounted for
- If keys cannot be accounted for, locks should be re-keyed and a key control policy instituted
- Windows should be locked
- Access to ladders should be secured
Surprising as it may seem, many experts believe that a well-maintained property can deter crime. Why? Because a poorly maintained building demonstrates that its owner is no longer able or willing to control their property. It thus becomes an invitation to any criminal who wants to seize control.
- Graffiti should be removed or painted over
- Weeds should be removed
- Debris should be removed from the grounds
- All lighted signs should be in working order
- All light fixtures should be in working order