By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—An increase in vandalism and other crimes of opportunity may be the natural result of efforts to bring more people to the Downtown area—but there are steps that business and property owners can take to discourage vandals and others, according to local law enforcement officials.
The Crime-Free Business Project involves sharing the principals of CPTED, or Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, he said. CPTED, a term first coined by Florida criminologist C. Ray Jeffery, is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. The ideas and principals of CPTED, developed by social scientists beginning in the 1960’s, are increasingly supported by law enforcement agencies and by the National Crime Prevention Association, which now offers a CPTED certification program.
“CPTED’s goal is to prevent crime by designing a physical environment that positively influences human behavior. The theory is based on four principles: natural access control, natural surveillance, territoriality, and maintenance,” notes the NCPA web site.
Typical CPTED improvements might include landscaping that does not block the line of sight, streetscapes that encourage increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic, windows that look out onto parking lots and other traditionally secluded locations, low, thorny plants such as cactus placed beneath ground-level windows and along fenced areas, and the elimination of design features that allow access to roofs and upper levels.
In addition to eliminating hiding places and unintended access points, CPTED incorporates the concept that broken windows should be fixed and graffiti removed to show a sense of pride and ownership in an area–while greater numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists also contribute to a sense of safety.
“Our Downtown is already in place, but we can definitely offer suggestions that would make it safer,” Caddy said, noting that as of this writing no strong leads had been found in the recent case involving the theft of a Downtown sculpture worth $4,500.
“If someone can get away with something, they will take it,” Caddy said, “so perhaps a different mounting system could be found that would make it harder for someone to take a sculpture—that is one thing we might suggest.”