Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Steps for crime prevention:
- Engage the support of residents and key partners.
- Identify crime and disorder problems in and around the proposed
- Review and analyse garden design based on existing crime
- Develop preventative or corrective design options.
- Carry out preferred options.
Design options for preventing garden crime:
- Define clear borders from public to semi-private and private.
Mark boundaries of the garden clearly with perimeter borders (wood,
cement block, wildlife fence, perennial flower gardens).
Choose footpath material in garden that is different than in
the area surrounding the garden.
- Eliminate barriers that create hiding spaces such as tall,
- Avoid landscaping that may conceal offenders.
- Avoid placing dark, and / or hidden areas near parts of the
garden where gardeners carry out activities such as at the water
source, tool storage, or compost bins.
- Avoid having covered and walled outdoor areas where loitering
may be a problem. Keep all canopies and gazebos open for all
- Use garden curbing and landscaping features to direct car and
foot traffic into controlled and visible areas.
- Minimize the number of entry and exit points to the
- Display Neighbourhood Watch signs near the garden.
- Post a sign stating who grows the plants and harvests the crops
and why. "If you grow it, you can pick it." Include how
anyone can join the garden, garden open hours (no open hours after
sunset) and how produce in shared gardens is donated to food banks
and people short of food. Include the phrase "Harvesting
without permission is theft".
- Provide appropriate lighting.
- Placing light wire or fencing around plots can act as a
- Plant seedlings for yellow tomatoes instead of red tomatoes
because they are perceived as less desirable to thieves.
- Hide your best crops. Plant easy to pick and desirable crops
behind less popular crops. For example, plant pumpkins in beds
covered with straw and plant raspberries behind legumes (beans,
peas) or tall ornamental plants.
- Dust your ripening crops such as corn with a harmless white
powder such as flour. Then post a sign warning of pest or
plant illness being treated.
- Grow more than you need so that you won't lose an entire
- Harvest tomatoes and peppers before they are fully
- Avoid planting too many bright coloured vegetables together in
an area such as large squash or peppers because the color
attracts attention to the garden.
- Grow tomatoes in a large container at home next to your door or
on a balcony.
- Avoid leaving surplus produce in the garden. This can
invite vandalism and theft.
- Police officers can conduct CPTED (crime prevention through
environmental design) assessments in existing neighbourhoods and
review applications for new developments.
- For gardens that are insured: insurance companies can offer
discounts for safe designs..
Social Prevention Options
- As part of garden membership, require all members to take one
week during the growing season that they will visit and check the
entire garden every day for a week. If the community garden
remains well maintained, it gives the impression that residents
care about the area and this deters people from performing illegal
- Involve youth that are living in the community
- Encourage residents to watch over the area. Maximize all
residents' enjoyment of the garden space and their ability to view
garden spaces. Invite people near the garden over for a BBQ or
potluck. Introduce all guests to one another and
encourage people to glance at the garden often. Check in with
neighbours monthly to keep them informed about garden
- Work out a common strategy on questioning unfamiliar visitors.
Would-be thieves hate a place where people talk to them, even if
the questioners are friendly. "Can I help you find the plot
you'garden bed you're looking for?" or "Would you like to
sign our waiting list for a garden bed?" may be all you need to say
to turn intruders away.
- If a suspected thief is spotted, make sure all gardeners know
what to do. Having a camera on hand can be good for capturing a
thief's photo and thus deterring that individual from
- During harvest season, schedule more gardeners to visit at
different times of day. Try to have fewer times where the
garden is unattended.
- At garden registration in spring, match up people with adjacent
garden beds as water buddies. When either one goes away on
vacation the other waters and cares for the adjacent gardener's
- Request each gardener to keep a record of what produce was
vandalized or stolen and the date it took place. This is so
that future planning to prevent vandalism and theft can be carried
out for the next growing season.
- Share ripe produce with gardeners who experience theft from
their garden bed in order to provide support to them during this
disappointment and distress of being a crime victim.