Your home is supposed to be where you feel safest, but you might be making yourself a target to criminals and not even realize it.
To help you protect your family, Greenville police officers are rolling out an initiative called CPTED – which stands for "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design."
The program examines lighting, landscaping and community layout to identify and reduce criminal hot spots.
It's as simple as cutting down oversize bushes, adding LED lighting, or choosing wider-panel fences that create visibility around your home instead of tall, wall-like fences.
"Even things as simple as the placement of trash cans, with fencing around it – the way the trash can is placed, it cuts out ambush points," says Niki Cates, a Greenville police officer.
She's one of four officers trained to spot ways to make your environment safer. She also sees everything you're doing wrong.
"Common mistakes we often see?" she says. "People think that actually adding a fence around their home will keep people out. A lot of people like the straight-paneling fence and they think that keeps people from knowing what's inside. That actually keeps the common criminal curious about what you have back there. So they're going to climb your fence and then once they're inside, nobody can see what they're doing and they have all the time in the world to commit any type of activity they wish to commit."
"I don't care where you live where somebody might try to get into your house, you like to feel like you're safe when you lay down at night," says Charles Meeks, a man who lives on the same street where two burglars murdered a man in his own home last summer.
"They had a lot of community meetings where safety was discussed, and the concern of being more visible by the police, more street lights, just to try to make sure we were as safe as we could be," Meeks says of the Westhaven Subdivision community watch meetings.
Officer Cates says if one thing can be learned from the Westhaven incident, it's coming together to look out for one another.
"The community is our eyes on street," she says. "We can't be everywhere all the time. So just simply looking out and being able to report what's going on helps us greatly."
Police have already started using CPTED techniques to target crime hot spots, and they hope to budget $100,000 over the next two years to install LED lighting around Greenville.
If you want them to assess the safety of your home, just call the Greenville Police Department to make a free appointment at (252) 329-4317
3221 South Evans Street
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