Landscaping to prevent crime

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Most people landscape their homes to look attractive and unique. But, according to police, homeowners can also use plants and landscaping to deter criminals.

Miami Beach police Officer Julio Blanco is an expert in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED, and says homeowners can improve the safety of their own homes with simple changes to their yards.

"[CPTED] is kind of a fancy acronym for designing out crime. Through design, you can prevent crime," Blanco said.

Blanco said hedges should be no more than 2 feet high.

"If landscape is maintained at this level, walking out to commit a crime will be easily observed by the resident and passersby," he said.

By contrast, high hedges can actually be hiding places for bad guys. So can low-hanging branches.

Blanco said branches on big trees in a front yard shouldn't hang lower than 8 feet from the ground.

Another layer of defense: spiky, thorny plants like yucca, cactus and agave.

While no one technique prevents crime completely, Blanco is confident that these landscaping tips work.

"I know there have been places (and) properties that had constant problems," he said. "The moment they applied good CPTED principles, the problems go away."

Click here for a free landscape assessment by the Miami Beach Police Department or call 305-673-7901 and ask for your Neighborhood Resource Officer.