While attending the PRISM 2015 Property Investment and Summit Expo at Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre last month, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Shamir Rajadurai, co-founder of Kickout: Breakaway – a practical safety and self defense programme in Malaysia – about safety and security through natural and man-made design. Shamir, who holds a 2nd DAN (Degree) Taekwondo Black Belt, is a 3 time Gold Medalist for sparring, has practiced Aikido, and runs the Prevent Crime Now website which offers self-defence training and crime prevention workshops.

The topic he shared during the breakaway session at PRISM 2015 was “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CPTED), which is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. It is best described as ‘building an entire urban neighbourhood where each contributes an amount of opportunity for “eyes on the street” for one another’. Needless to say, it attracted quite a crowd, as many people were keen to learn more about personal safety in their current and potential future residential neighbourhoods.

Criminal activities such as snatch theft, robberies, burglaries, smash and grab, and even kidnapping cases have been reported with more and more regularity in recent times. Besides reading about them in newspapers or hearing it on the radio, we are also exposed to stories of crime through social media and even chain messages on instant messaging platforms. We may not be able to control what happens outside of our home or taman, but there are ways to make sure the potential of crime is significantly reduced and increase our personal safety at the same time through proper design and precautions.

These days, properties are bought and sold even before they are built. Developers usually have a scale model to show the development’s design, concept and environment during the launch, and buyers will base their purchase decisions on this tiny little model as well as the realtor’s charisma. 😛 It is true that sometimes the scale model is not entirely accurate to the actual building, but it is still good to take note of several features when looking at the scale model, namely:

  • Design
  • Walkways
  • Street lights
  • Nearby amenities and emergency department

Visibility is key when purchasing property, be it landed or strata. Make sure there are no blind walls (which obstruct your view of a certain area of the property, especially for corner or end lots; blind spots) and that there are windows on every side that can act as a natural surveillance point for any outdoor activity.

Does the housing area or condominium have proper walkways for pedestrians? Is there good connectivity between the walkways and facilities such as bus stops, shops, schools, etc? There should also be a good distance or gap between the walkway and road, as pedestrians walking near to traffic are easy targets for snatch thieves. Ideally, a narrow walkways should be fitted with railings to separate it from the road for both safety and crime prevention purposes.

Street lights
Are there sufficient street lights in the area? Are there trees or other structures that might block the street lights and/or view of the walkway from nearby houses or condominium blocks? Well-lit roads and walkways have been proven to be safer for users and help to deter crime as it is easily visible.

street lighting

emergency-service-malaysiaAmenities and emergency services
Are there schools, shops or other amenities located nearby, or is the development located in an isolated area? Will services such as ambulance, firetruck or police patrol arrive quickly in an emergency? These factors are important to gauge how fast you will be able to receive assistance when the need arises. Having shops and schools nearby will enable you to shorten the time spent outside on sending children to school and running simple errands, thus minimizing the risk of break-ins.

In Part 2, I will share more factors that will help to increase safety and prevent crime in your home and neighbourhood.