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What is CPTED and why is it essential to your business?

By: Marie-Claire Asseko
September 25, 2016

Local area businesses have plenty of reasons to secure their premises. One, of course, is to prevent theft. Other reasons are to enhance customer and employee safety; to reduce liability for negligence claims, real or fraudulent; and to document activities of customers, employees and delivery personnel. Delivery fraud, by the way, is the third most common source of shrinkage behind employee theft and shoplifting.

In an area such as White Rock where 23 RCMP officers protect a population of over 20, 000, Officers cannot always attend, patrol or prevent Property Crimes which affect business and homes. In 2015 a steady number of Property Crimes have taken place in South Surrey and White Rock as referenced in the RCMP Annual Crime Stats:

At the heart of securing retail premises is an architectural concept called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Just as architects design buildings to keep out the weather, CPTED is designed to keep out criminals, while boosting the safety sensed by customers and employees.

Although CPTED applies to the design of new buildings, it’s also applicable in retrofitting existing buildings to the extent that budget and time allows.

CPTED has five principles:

1. Natural surveillance is making your business as visible as possible from the outside by having clear lines of sight into it. Refrain from putting walls or hedges where criminals can hide near any windows and entrances. Good lighting is important, especially around entrances and anywhere else customers might access at night along with a clearly visible Indoor and outdoor Recorded video surveillance. Place a monitor near the entrance so potential criminals see themselves when they enter.

2. Natural access control directs the flow of vehicles and people into and out of your premises, so you can better see who’s coming and going. Use barriers, curbs or gates to keep vehicles in view of the business entrance and video surveillance, having cars park in well-lit defined spaces. Entrances should be well-lit and visible, with some audible alert when opened to let employees know someone’s walked in. Exits should be open, visible and alarmed with signage indicating as much. Last, make sure roof access is strictly controlled.

3. Territorial reinforcement creates a clear line between public and your business premises using fences, hedges, signage or some combination, so intruders are aware they’re not welcome. Yard signs and window stickers can also provide deterrents. If you use a private security service, put their window stickers on your front door, all exits and windows too.

4. Good building maintenance lets criminals know that you care about your property. If something breaks, fix it promptly. If it’s the landlord’s responsibility, insist that he or she take care of all maintenance and broken items immediately. Delaying maintenance and repairs invites trouble because criminals assume the building owner doesn’t care about the property.

5. Target hardening refers to making your premises difficult to enter. Deadbolt locks with tempered steel latches extending at least an inch into the door frame should be used. Protective window films for plate-glass windows are another way to harden your premises. Properly applied, these films can withstand a sledgehammer. If windows do break, the film holds the glass together. Roll-down shutters and gates over storefronts for after-hours use also let criminals know your premises will be hard to break into.

CPTED measures can help reduce your insurance rates by as much as 20 percent and help pay for themselves over time. Your customers and employees will feel more secure. And you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind.

Contact us to discuss your security needs.