How CPTED can address the current robbery phenomena


For many Americans, and certainly for those of us that work within the field of security, the recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies that have taken place are a frightening reminder that we must always be aware of the threats that exist around us.

Retailers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York and countless other cities have recently lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise due to these events. Furthermore, these bold daylight-robberies have resulted in threats of injury, actual injury, and death.

One of the most frightening aspects of these events is the sheer number of perpetrators involved (from a few individuals to 30 or more per occurrence). Furthermore, these events appear to be highly organized. Many of them have been characterized by ongoing communication and cooperation before, during and after these crimes. The sheer number of perpetrators and the organized manner by which these crimes occur have left unsuspecting retailers seeking ways to improve employee and customer safety while preventing additional loss.


Many retailers are seeking to address this phenomenon through the utilization of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles (CPTED for short). This approach to crime prevention uses time-proven tactics to deter theft while ensuring that when is does occur, that its destructive nature is minimized.

For example. CPTED relies heavily upon proper lighting, the use of appropriate signage, barriers and access/exit control mechanisms, opportunities to improve lines of sight and internal/external surveillance, proper product placement, locked and tagged merchandise, parking control and plate readers, and the use of overt and covert onsite security. And while many of these measures are well known to security professionals, they are less well known to business establishments. Because of this lack of knowledge, it would benefit our nation’s business leaders to consult with CPTED security professionals while educating themselves through the growing amount of literature (both in print and electronic format) that exists about this approach.

While not all incidents of smash-and-grab robberies can be prevented, an awareness of, and an adherence to, the principle of CPTED have been prove effective. There is little doubt that this approach will gain increased interest in the days and months to follow.

Media contact

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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