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When walking into a major theme park you naturally bear to the right. You don't veer from the main pathways. Prohibited areas may not be marked but you instinctively know that you can't go there. So, why is that? The principle is "Crime Prevention through Environmental Design," commonly known as CPTED. The theme park environment has been cleverly designed with gentle slopes to direct walking traffic. Landscaping has been designed with symbolic demarcation and subtle barriers that mark transitions between zones such as different colored or textured pathways, flower beds, ground cover, and decorative fencing. When more substantial barriers are needed, shrubbery and thorny bushes are effective in creating a more formidable obstacle.
The uniqueness and success of CPTED comes from the integration of crime prevention principles and techniques into the architectural design process. Quick serve (QSR) and fast casual restaurants are vulnerable to robbery because of cash transactions with the public, late at night. Four overlapping CPTED principles are particularly effective in comprehensive crime prevention programs to help people feel safer and deter crime. The overall function is to affect behavior and create the impression that activity is monitored and misbehavior will be addressed.
1. Natural Surveillance – Places physical features in ways to maximize the ability to see what's going on. One of the biggest obstacles of natural surveillance in QSR and fast casual restaurants is advertizing plastered over the windows. It prevents police patrols and others from observing activity inside the restaurant, particularly after the sun goes down. The same is true for overgrown plants and bushes that cover the windows. Inside, convex mirrors improve the view of blind spots. A camera system with a monitor in the office provides a view and records activity inside and outside. An enunciator or strobe light that goes off when the back door is opened presents additional awareness. A manager wearing a drive-thru headset during evening and late night hours not only provides awareness of drive-thru activity, but additional security and communications when needed. A window overlooking the kitchen assists in monitoring activity.
2. Physical Security – Properly located entrances, locks, fencing, landscaping and lighting deter crime.
3. Territoriality – Use fences, good maintenance, signs and landscaping effectively. Use fencing or landscaping to define outside dining areas, limited access points and mark property boundaries. Keep the premises looking well kept, crisp and clean to portray a sense of pride and ownership in the property. Keep the tables, glass, and floors clean. Repaint as necessary, and keep the exterior free of trash and patch parking lot potholes. Keep fencing away from the building to prevent access to the roof. If CCTV is used, strategically place signs stating that the property is under video surveillance to increase the impact. Have a plan to remove any graffiti immediately.
4. Maintenance – Have a checklist for routine maintenance tasks. Check the parking lot after the sun goes down to ensure lighting is not blocked by overgrown tree limbs. Trim shrubs to less than three feet high and lower limbs of trees to a minimum of six feet to improve visibility lines. Routinely inspect and test alarms, locks, fire extinguishers and CCTV system. A well maintained building and premises shows pride and a sense of ownership in the property and attention to detail. The perception of attention to detail may deter suspicious and/or criminal behavior.
These CPTED strategies rely on the ability to influence decisions that precede criminal acts. The perceptions that the offender may be identified or caught may outweigh the desire to commit the crime. In simple terms: the risk is greater than the reward. A well maintained property with built in crime prevention structures and principles, along with well trained employees, are proven crime prevention strategies. A flower in the proper position integrated with other behavior modifying techniques, has tremendous power to keep employees and customers safer and more secure. Use them wisely.
For more information on security, safety, loss and crime prevention for restaurants, visit www.LossBusters.com. For daily tips on restaurant loss prevention, follow on Twitter @LossBusters
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