(Here is an excerpt from
some of Mr. Zehring's training curriculum)
Crime Prevention in
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people feel helpless against crime, because too often crime is seen as an
inevitable part of our society. It has been said, “If a criminal WANTS
to get you, he’ll get you!” This belief leads to helplessness, fear
and apathy. Apathy is one of the most dangerous elements in society today.
When law-abiding citizens refuse to go outside after dark, they
have voluntarily turned over their neighborhoods to the ones perpetrating
Are Like Weeds
times rental property managers will not battle criminal activity on their
rental property because they feel they cannot be successful. Often, people
view dangerous criminals like a large rock that cannot be moved, or even
be budged. But, dangerous criminals are NOT like rocks. In fact, they are
more like weeds. Unlike an inanimate rock, a plant will grow. As a weed
grows, it roots, it sprouts out and it chokes out healthy plants. A single
weed can quickly overtake an entire garden. When criminal activity is
allowed to flourish in apartment communities, the effect is the same.
typical police approach to crime is REACTIVE.
Once a crime has been committed, the police officer responds, writes a
police report and begins the preliminary investigation. It is certainly
more humane and cost effective to prevent a crime from even occurring.
Crime Prevention is the PROACTIVE
side of law enforcement. Crime Prevention
is more desirable because is addresses the potential for crime before it
becomes a serious problem.
many people don’t address crime situations until it is too late. (A good
example is the victim of a burglary who suddenly becomes interested in a
home security system.)
Once a crime problem has
gotten too large, it is often easier to run away than face it. Equate
the crime problem to killing a dinosaur. The easiest way to kill a
dinosaur is while it is in the egg. Once the dinosaur hatches, it will
become larger and progressively harder to defeat. The same is true regarding criminal activity.
prevent crime, you need to understand crime, and you need to understand
the criminal mind. When you think of criminals, think of predators. Most
criminals are like predators, looking for easy victims.
you think of predators you might think of a lion. When the lion is
hungry, she will go out to stalk her prey. The lion knows the watering
hole is a good place to find food, as this is where all the animals come
to get water. The lion is a skilled hunter. She knows the best approach
is from downwind. This way she can smell the herd, but they cannot smell
her. The lion is also careful to approach slowly, staying low in the
tall grass to avoid detection.
just the right moment, the lion pounces into the herd. The lion does not
run past the injured, the diseased or slowest ones in favor of the
strongest one at the lead of the pack. In fact, it usually is the one
that is injured, sick or simply NOT PAYING ATTENTION that gets attacked.
This is called survival of the fittest or thinning the herd.
two-legged urban breed of predator, the criminal, works the same way.
They stalk their victims, looking for the easy prey. To be successful
against an attack, you don’t necessarily have to be the strongest
one, but you don’t want to be the weakest!
only hunt when they are hungry; but criminals are almost always on the
prowl. This is why crime prevention is so important.
you cannot remove a target. But you can harden the target. Target
hardening involves the use of locks, electronic devices, or other
hardware that will DETECT, DENY, DELAY or DETER the
criminal (away from the intended target). Target hardening is directed
to all structures, vehicles and personal property within the rental
DETECT: By utilizing good security techniques,
you can cause the person to make more noise, which will increase
the risk of detection. This may also persuade the person not to
commit the crime.
DENY: By engraving valuables, using security
electronic equipment, or by moving other valuables out of view, you can remove
the rewards received from a crime opportunity. If the rewards are
not there, this may persuade the person not to commit the crime.
DELAY: Many times crimes are committed because of
an easy opportunity. By using good crime prevention techniques you can increase
the time and effort needed to commit the crime. This may persuade the
person not to commit the crime.
DETER: By utilizing the previous three techniques,
you may prevent a crime from happening by deterring the criminal from the property
to an easier target elsewhere.
C.P.T.E.D. In Apartment Communities
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (C.P.T.E.D.)
is comprised of four (4) key elements:
Surveillance, Access Control, Territoriality, and Activity
Support. Virtually any property crime can be eliminated by using C.P.T.E.D.
SURVEILLANCE is the first element of C.P.T.E.D. Surveillance is the
ability to look into an area, and the ability to look back out. It can be formal or informal.
Formal surveillance is generally organized, while informal surveillance
is naturally occurring.
NOTE: You should observe your property from all locations, keeping in mind
whether you can see into and out of the property. Keep in mind that residents and staff are formal
surveillance partners, and that neighbors or visitors to your property will conduct
informal surveillance of your property. Remove anything that hinders surveillance.
There are three types of surveillance to consider. Natural, Mechanical and Organized.
The best plan will involve some combination of all three types of surveillance.
Natural Surveillance is naturally
occurring. As people are moving around an area, they will be able to
observe what is going on around them, provided the area is open and
well-lighted. Natural Surveillance is typically free of cost, but
observers may choose not to get involved in any situation that may pose
a potential threat to themselves or others.
considering surveillance of your property, remember that casual
observers from neighboring properties might be willing to report
suspicious activity. All you need to do is ask! It is a great idea to
ask them to join your Block Watch meeting and safety socials.
Mechanical Surveillance employs the
use of cameras, mirrors and other equipment that allows an individual to
monitor a remote area. Mechanical surveillance usually involves the
purchase of moderately inexpensive mirrors to the more expensive
electronic devices, such as closed circuit television (CCTV).
NOTE: Once the equipment is purchased, maintenance
of the devices must be considered.
includes security patrols and other people who are organized to watch a
targeted area. While this is the most
effective deterrent to crime, it is also the least cost effective. While
it may be necessary to employ security patrols or off-duty police
officers, once the patrols are discontinued there is generally nothing
left to show for your investment.
is the second element in C.P.T.E.D.
Because many criminals look for an easy escape, limiting access into an area and back
out again is a great way to deter criminal activity. Access Control can be demonstrated
by having one way into and out of a location, such as a security post or the use of
mechanical gates. Others, who use alternative methods to enter an area
look suspicious, risk detection and sense an increased risk of
important to assess how the intended users are entering the property. It
is even more important to assess how the non-intended users are entering
the property. Look at perimeter fencing for damage. Look for
footprints in the dirt and gravel. Check for wear patterns in grassy
areas. Determining the weak points will be the first step to correcting
are three (3) types of Access Controls to considers: Natural
(or Environmental), Mechanical and Organized.
Natural/Environmental Access Control
the use of the environment. To keep trespassers from climbing over walls
for instance, you could plant thorny bushes or a hearty cactus in the area where it will
be highly visible. The use of dirt berms or large rocks can also keep
unwanted visitors from entering onto private property and vacant lots.
Mechanical Access Control
the use of security gates, which have proven very effective at reducing
auto thefts, burglaries and drive-by shootings. Most perpetrators of
these crimes do not want to exit the way they entered as it gives
witnesses the opportunity to record license plates and get better
Control entails the use of security or courtesy patrol to
monitor those entering the property. Distribution of parking permits,
affixed to registered vehicles, will identify which vehicles belong to
the residents. Vehicles
should not be allowed to back into parking spaces, so that parking
permits will be visible at all times.
TERRITORIALITY is the third element in C.P.T.E.D.
Territoriality is a psychological impression that people get when they look at the property.
If management displays good territoriality, it will influence the community to respect
the property as well. Good territoriality demonstrates a sense of
ownership, alerting potential offenders that they don’t belong there
and they will be seen and reported, because undesirable behavior will
not be tolerated. It has two (2) principle components: Defensible Space and Maintenance.
Defensible Space is divided into
four (4) categories: Public, Semi-public, Semi-private, and Private.
Public areas are typically the least defensible.
A car driving on a public street would not automatically arouse suspicion.
Semi-public areas might include a cul-de-sac.
If there are only five homes in the circle, a driver would be expected to stop at one of the
five homes or leave the area.
Semi-private areas might include sidewalks
or common areas around residential areas. While most people may not
confront a stranger in a common area, they are likely to call the police
if the person does not appear to belong there.
Private areas are different in rental communities
than in single-family home neighborhoods. In a typical apartment the private area may not begin
until you actually enter into the unit. This is especially true if
several units share a common balcony or stairways. In a single-family
home neighborhood, many owners consider their front yard to be private,
or defensible space.
There are many ways to establish defensible space.
By planting low growing hedges or bushes, you will show a defined property line. By posting
signs such as ”No Trespassing” or “No Soliciting”, you have
established the area as defensible space.
Maintenance is another key issue for Territoriality.
Properties that are clean and well maintained are more likely
to attract residents who take pride in their community. This also promotes confidence in the
ACTIVITY SUPPORT is the fourth element
in C.P.T.E.D. This involves the appropriate use of recreational facilities and common areas. The
objective is to fill the area with legitimate users so the abusers will leave.
It may be difficult to believe that filling an area with
legitimate users will cause the deviant users, or abusers, to leave. But the opposite is
also true. If you fill an area with deviant users, the legitimate users
To promote Activity Support, utilize common areas effectively. By
incorporating ramadas, picnic areas and other amenities into open areas,
the legitimate users will maintain ownership of the property.
In recreational areas, utilize proper lighting techniques and establish
community rules to encourage the proper and safe use of the facilities.
For laundry facilities, exercise and game rooms, maintain unobscured
visibility for the intended users.
The following is one example
of the Crime Free Lease Addendum.
In consideration for the execution or renewal of a lease of the dwelling unit
identified in the lease, Manager or Owner and Resident agree as follows:
Resident, any member(s) of the resident's household, a
guest or any other persons affiliated with the resident, at or near the
Shall not engage in criminal activity, including
drug-related criminal activity, on or near the said premises. "Drug
related criminal activity" means the illegal manufacture, sale,
distribution, use, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell,
distribute, or use an illegal or controlled substance (as defined in
Section 102 of the Controlled Substance Act [21 U.S.C.802]).
Shall not engage in any act intended to facilitate
Will not permit the dwelling unit to be used for,
or to facilitate criminal activity.
Shall not engage in the unlawful manufacturing,
selling, using, storing, keeping, or giving of an illegal or controlled
substance as defined in A.R.S. 13-3451, at any locations, whether on
or near the dwelling unit premises.
Shall not engage in any illegal activity,
including but not limited to prostitution as defined in A.R.S.
13-3211, criminal street gang activity as defined in A.R.S. 13-105
and A.R.S. 13-2308, threatening or intimidating as prohibited in
A.R.S.13-1202, assault as prohibited in A.R.S. 13-1203, including
but not limited to the unlawful discharge of a weapon, on or near
the dwelling unit premises, or any breach of the lease agreement that
otherwise jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare of the landlord, his
agent, or other tenant, or involving imminent or actual serious property
damage, as defined in A.R.S. 33-1368.
VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS SHALL BE A
MATERIAL AND IRREPARABLE VIOLATION OF THE LEASE AND GOOD CAUSE FOR
IMMEDIATE TERMINATION OF TENANCY. A single violation of any of the
provisions of this added addendum shall be deemed a serious violation, and
a material and irreparable non- compliance. It is understood that a single
violation shall be good cause for immediate termination of the lease
under A.R.S. 33-1377, as provided in A.R.S. 33-1368. Unless otherwise
provided by law, proof of violation shall not require a criminal
conviction, but shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.
In case of conflict between the provisions of this
addendum and any other provisions of the lease, the provisions of this
addendum shall govern.
This LEASE ADDENDUM is incorporated into the lease
executed or renewed this day between Manager or Owner and Resident.
Property Manager's Signature
Name of Property
THE APPLICATION FORM
should have a set criterion or standards that they want the residents of
their manufactured housing community to meet. The application form is
their chance to gather information about their future residents. By making
their application clear, concise and thorough, management will be able to
make an informed decision and ensure that their criterion is being met.
is imperative that management carefully reads the entire application
before accepting it, making sure that every question is fully answered. If
the applicant discloses information that does not meet their rental
criteria the application should probably be denied.
accepting the application their job is only half done. The application is
of no use to management if they do not carefully screen or verify the
information. Management should take the time themselves, or hire someone qualified to do a
thorough screening and background check on all of the information
Suggested Criminal History Questions:
should have a keen interest in the people that want to live in their
rental community. No one wants to live next door to a person with a
violent or extensive criminal history.
part of the application process management should ask the applicant, (and
any other people who will be living in the home), about their criminal
history. If they refuse to disclose this information to the management,
they have the option not to rent to them.
NOTE: HUD Guidelines are changing and this may become obsolete in YOUR state! It is still recommended that management get as much detailed information as they legally can.
To assist management in gathering information, obtain legal advice about asking the following questions on the application:
Have you, or any member of your household:
1. Ever been convicted of a crime or plead guilty to a crime?
2. Ever been placed on probation, parole, or any other release from jail, or prison?
3. Ever been or currently are a member of a gang?
4. Is there a current warrant for the
applicant or any members of their household?
5. Are applicants or any members of their household currently involved in any criminal activity?
6. Ever been evicted or had a forcible detainer filed against you?
7. Ever moved to avoid eviction or because of problems with other tenants or a landlord?
Management is responsible to know the laws in their area and
should be sure the applicants explain all “Yes” answers in detail according to guidelines. At
a minimum management should ask if the applicant or any person living in the
home has ever been convicted of a crime. Management should inquire about all crimes, not just
felonies. In most cases, a 7-year history is adequate. Many of the crimes that will cause management the most problems
are not felonies. I do not recommend you discriminate against applicants based
on an arrest. This is especially true if the charges were ultimately dropped.
credit reporting agencies will offer to search local or county court
records for criminal data pertaining to their prospective tenants. While many of these
companies make promising claims, the results they get may vary as greatly as the costs.
It is important to "shop
around" for the best results, using a control group of names
currently being processed. In most cases, management will see the best results
from companies that use licensed private investigators, and search
multiple courts and jurisdictions.
most states, material falsification of the information provided on the
rental application, will allow the management to serve a notice to the
resident, terminating the rental agreement.
the residents claims the misinformation was an “honest mistake” but the
corrected information they provide would have disqualified the applicant as well, the manager probably should proceed with the written
the corrected information would have allowed the resident to qualify, the
manager should probably void the notice. Most states allow for an
eviction against a resident who has given untrue or misleading information
on the application pertaining to such things as:
Prior eviction records
Income of prospective resident
Current criminal activity
Social security number
Number of occupants in dwelling unit
Refusing An Application
It is important that management keeps documentation
for the applications that they have refused to approve. This documentation should be kept in the
application file and retained for future use. Along with documentation,
management must be consistent in following the defined criteria and
standards they have set for their manufactured housing community.
that the Fair Housing Laws do not say you have to turn your I.Q. back 30
points, nor do they require that you have to rent to everyone who applies.
The Fair Housing Laws simply prohibit discrimination based on the
applicable protected classes in your area.
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