Man About Menifee: Make Use of Deterrents to Crime

By David Baker

When I was in college, I majored in Administration of Justice, so logically now I sell kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures.

One of the subjects covered was CPTED, or "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design." The basic premise is the belief that making simple design changes to the environment can actually prevent the opportunity for crime.

The government and business sectors use these all the time, whether the local citizenry realizes it or not. Have you ever seen the big thick trees with deep roots in front of banks and government buildings? These aren’t just decoration. They are there to prevent a criminal from driving a truck through the side of the building and doing damage, stealing what is inside, or performing some other dastardly deed. They sure look better than a barbed wire fence and an armed guard though, don’t you think?

The big red balls in front of Target on Haun Road serve a similar purpose. If you’ve ever set foot in a shopping mall and noticed that the clothing racks, especially those close to the entrances and exit, seem a little more awkward when pulling multiple items off, this is by design as well.

By placing each successive hanger opposite the other, rather than have them all open in the same direction, this prevents potential thieves from performing a snatch and grab and running away with merchandise.

Last night I was with Doug Spoon, the editor of Menifee 24/7, on the scene of a police-involved shooting in Sun City. As he was posting updates of the story via Facebook, people were responding and leaving comments. One individual seemed to indicate there were more cheerful news stories to report on, and he was instantly beset upon by dozens of readers all in support of our efforts to report the news as it actually happened.

As Niki D. of Riverside posted, "I want to know what is going on around me. Not seeing it doesn't mean it isn't happening."

All this got me thinking, are residents of the Menifee Valley aware of what they could do for themselves to make them less of a potential victim in their own home without simply becoming a shut-in, or going into full survivalist mode lockdown?

CPTED, when used residentially, can be broken into a few basic ideas:

For a bad guy to do bad things, it helps if he is not seen or detected. High hedges and shadows are his friends. So keep the walk clearly visible, and avoid over-powered security lights that create glare and shadow. Make sure lighting overlaps eliminating shadow.

The biggest natural deterrent is pain. No, I don’t advocate the use of bear traps or strategically placed "Home Alone" style Legos and Micro Machines, but low bushes, especially thorny roses and the like, placed under a ground floor window can dissuade would-be prowlers from using this as an access point.

Property lines:
It turns out your HOA was right. Making sure your lawn is groomed and weeds are pulled tells a potential intruder that this is a house where the people are alert to their surroundings.
There’s an old proverb that says "A lock only keeps an honest man honest." If a criminal really wants your stuff, he’ll find a way, but that doesn’t mean you need to make it easy.

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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