Where Does Your Security Start?

By Wayne Ohlemeier, Sonitrol Pacific Chief Technical Officer
Posted May 14, 2008

Have you ever considered the way you use and design your facility as an integral part of your security system? A concept known as CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) can play an important role in the safety and security of your facility.

I would like to share a few points to consider the next time you walk around your building.

– Monument sign: Does it have the name of the business, street number, and is it back lighted? This becomes a great help to emergency responders.
– Address numbers: Are they large, visible from any direction, contrasting color from the building, possibly painted in large numbers on the roof? Again a tremendous help to emergency responders. More jurisdictions also use helicopters to respond, hence the roof top numbers.
– Do you use Trespassing/ No Loitering signage? Be sure to have the local ordinance code numbers on the signs. This will aid in civil as well as criminal prosecution.
– Can you control entry and exit through limited points? Can you use electronic access control? This is not just entry into the building but onto the property. It will deter unwelcome visitors as well as help with observing who is coming and going.
– Do not use reserved parking spaces with the name of an employee. It can make them an easy target.
– Use gates and fencing to create a perimeter. You open link fencing so observation from the outside is possible.
– If fencing is not possible can landscaping be use to create the impression of a perimeter? When using landscaping, be sure trees are trimmed up to seven feet and bushes trimmed so that they are no higher than 42 inches. This also allows for better observation of the property. Keep trees away from the building so they cannot be used as ladders. Keep bushes away from entry and exit points so they cannot be used to hide behind. Consider bushes with thorns to keep people away from windows or as a barrier.
– Exterior lighting should provide enough light to be able to identify the physical features of a person from at least 50 feet. Consider wall mounted lights over doorways and critical areas.
– Dumpsters and trash collection cans can make employee theft possible. Place these in an area where they can be easily observed. Let your employees watch out for you and each other.
– Shipping and receiving areas can be vulnerable. Limit access, use video surveillance.

The appearance of a building that is well kept, has a clear perimeter, and appears to be secure will be your greatest deterrence to even attempt crime.