CPTED – Using Lighting to Discourage Thieves

Published September 22, 2020
Category Uncategorized

CPTED’s (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) 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.

With the above in mind, evaluation of the premises or ‘target’ can include the following recommendations for the physical facility:


Interior lighting: Possible ideal scenario would be to have the interior lights extinguish 15-minutes after the alarm is armed. Anyone ‘casing’ the premises will not be aware of the final exiting of all employees. Several times exiting employees are accosted since the thief is pre-warned. This could help to avoid this ‘signaling’ to a holdup person that employees are now exiting and at risk.

Exterior lighting: During my ASIS CPP (*American Society of Industrial Security Certified Protection Professional) training, an ASIS CPTED experiment was discussed. Within a Texas city, enough lighting was added to make a several square block area ‘day light’ during the night. Crime plummeted. However, after several weeks, the crime rate began to increase. Crime eventually, exceeded previous rates. No longer were criminals ‘shocked’ by the lighting. Lighting provided the criminals with viability as they did their nefarious deeds.

Many recommend to setup outdoor lighting on movement sensors. Triggering the sensor triggers the lighting. This can cause the criminal to ‘pause’ – believing someone may have turned the lighting on to observe what is occurring. Residential and commercial lighting settings can be installed this way.

Newer alarm controllers have the capability of interfacing with lighting circuits to turn lights ‘on’ when remote buttons are pressed. During personnel’s normal arrival time in the morning, the alarm controller with its internal clock can turn on exterior and/or internal lighting at a pre-set time. Arriving personnel will view the perimeter of the facility prior to exiting their vehicles. This provides them with greater safety and security. Several methods of incorporating lighting into the security scheme of a home or business can be discussed!

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— Joseph Pfefer

President & Founder

Published September 22, 2020
Category Uncategorized