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Crime Prevention & Crime-Free Multi-Housing

Crime-Free Housing

The Vermillion Police Department is pleased to offer Crime Free Multi-Housing. Rental Property Managers and Owners are encouraged to contact us regarding the program. Crime Free Housing is a preventative measure owners and managers can take to help keep illegal activity out of their properties. The premise of the program is learning how to select the right tenants and learning the importance of upkeep and maintenance for the property.

Education on these topics and more is available through the Crime Free Housing Manager's Seminar which is an 8 hour training course for managers and owners. To express interest or to make inquiries regarding Crime Free Housing, contact Lieutenant Luke Trowbridge at 605-677-7070, or via email at ltrowbridge@vermillionpd.org.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Also referred to as the acronym, CPTED and pronounced septed, is a philosophy that design and planning can influence human behavior. The National Crime Prevention Institute cites "The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life". This is similar to the old adage our grandmothers used to tell us that you attract more bees with honey than vinegar. If you portray a good appearance for normal users and define the space and design it properly, it leaves little suggestion for anything other than its intended purpose, even in the eyes of abnormal users. If a space is left unclearly defined and designed or unkempt, normal users will vacate and abnormal users will designate and begin use of the space. CPTED also falls in line with the broken window theory - leave a broken window unrepaired and soon there will be two. Fix a broken window, however, and you maintain the space for normal use and users.


CPTED has four key concepts, Natural Surveillance, Natural Access and Control, Territorial Reinforcement and a Maintenance Plan.

Natural Surveillance. refers to places where persons and their activities can be readily observed by passersby. A prime example of this would be a city park where the tree canopies are trimmed high and hedges or bushes are trimmed low to allow a natural sight line through the park providing any passersby the opportunity to see activities taking place whether the activities are legitimate or illegal. Having a natural sight line also reduces the potential of entrapment areas.

Natural Access and Control refers to the flow of users in and out of the space. Do the access points to a space allow for natural flow of users in and out of the area, or does it detract normal users from wanting to be there and creates an abnormal user friendly environment. The access points should allow for safe entry and exit of the space to be used. Perceptions of a safe environment will attract normal users while unsafe conditions will promote abnormal use.

Territorial Reinforcement refers to defining the space so it is apparent the space belongs to the normal intended users. This can be achieved by placing hedges or fences on a property line. It can also be achieved with simple landscaping to define a space that certain use is allowed or disallowed. Territorial Reinforcement makes a perceptual statement that this property, area or space belongs to someone.

Finally, having a maintenance plan is a must. Natural surveillance, access and control and territorial reinforcement are all great concepts, but without a maintenance plan in place, these concepts can quickly collapse and fall to the wayside. A Maintenance Plan allows the tree canopies and bushes to be routinely trimmed to maintain natural surveillance. Maintaining appearance and condition of access and control areas continues the pattern of normal use and access to a space. Maintenance also keeps territorial reinforcement defined and designated for normal wanted use of a space. Without a maintenance plan, a broken window soon becomes two.

The CPTED philosophy and its key concepts have a proven track record to help reduce actual crime stats. The perception given by spaces where CPTED has been implemented is that the space is safe for normal use. CPTED can be implemented in a small space similar to your front yard, or large spaces like schools and parks by defining, designing and designating spaces using the CPTED concepts.