CPTED for Parking Lots and Garages

Sound practices for security

Landscaping and Access Points
Landscaping decisions can impact access to the site and building. Low shrubs using CPTED criteria are important to deflect persons from the edge of the building. Trees and bushes should be properly maintained so as to provide a proper field of vision. Open parking areas will often have landscaping that can provide hiding places and block visibility. Landscaping under CPTED criteria should be intermittent in size and texture.

If the parking lots or garages have persons collecting tickets or monies, there is a need for careful placement of the parking attendant. The goal is for a well-defined vehicular entrance as well as providing good lines of sight. Vehicular access points and toll takers can be a very effective security measure. They advertise to potential criminals or terrorists that they probably will be observed by some form of guardian or other patrons, and/or recorded.
One of the greatest security challenges with parking lots and garages is the number of entrances and exits. The traffic engineers will often encourage multiple access points to increase the circulation patterns and time of entry or leaving. However, from a security and control perspective, the more entrances there are, the less ability to enforce a level of security on the grounds. The CPTED perspective and recommended method is to have one means of entry and exit for vehicles. If the volume of traffic is so great as to demand or require more, then at each subsequent access point place an attendant booth, access gate arms, roll down shutters for after hours closure and ground floor protection, along with CCTV and good lighting.

CCTV and Surveillance
The cashier booths are a high-risk target for robbery, especially with the use of vehicles for an easy escape. If a parking attendant were going to be collecting cash, the built-in feature of a drop safe would reduce the availability to the cash. Signage must be clearly stated that cash is drop safe deposited and that the cashier does not have access to it. The cashier should also have duress or silent alarms to notify security or police of a robbery. If there is CCTV coverage of the garage, a camera should be focused on the attendant booth. The camera coverage should be recorded so that law enforcement can respond to accurate information. Cashier booths should be designed to allow 360 degree visibility. Drop-down gates and barrier arms can be designed to allow for the orderly entry and exit by the attendant booth and deter piggybacking behind another car.

Cash collection in parking structures is an important security design consideration. Cash can be handled manually at kiosks or automatic systems. The cashier, however, can provide an important link in providing surveillance during operation hours. Automatic systems should be located where they are visible to other employees in order to reduce the opportunity for vandalism or burglary.

Cameras should be strategically placed in areas that would be provided with constant light (by daylight or by luminaries) to provide proper illumination for the lens. Low-light cameras can be used, but they are more expensive and acknowledge that lighting conditions might be poor. Camera placement in garages should be chosen where there is the highest percentage of unhindered view. Most cameras allow pan/tilt/zoom for maximum flexibility.

Camera placement on surface parking lots should be prioritized with good lines of sight and cover as much ground as possible. The cameras should be protected within polycarbonate domes to resist vandalism, and usually dark domes to prevent people from seeing where the cameras are watching. Camera systems need to be monitored in real time and digitally recorded for playback and enhancement. Cameras should be color rather than black-and-white to make it easier to identify specific vehicles and persons.

Panic button call boxes should be integrated with the video surveillance system, allowing a camera to be activated when a call box is pushed so that security can receive a call for assistance instantly. CCTV systems can also be integrated into the access control system so that license plate numbers can be entered into a log when vehicles enter or exit the parking facility.

Stairwells and elevators should be located centrally, where they are visible from the attendant’s position. If stairwells are located in blind spots, have them monitored with cameras, panic alarms and door position switches to alert the attendant that someone is in the stairwell. Stairwells can be constructed of clear glazing materials to allow visibility from the street.

If public restrooms are in a parking garage they should be located near the attendant booth for casual supervision and located in open, well-traveled areas for maximum surveillance opportunities. The doors may be locked during operating hours and the attendant may be able to give a key or remotely lock and unlock a door.

Communications equipment in the form of radios is necessary for attendants, patrol rovers or security staff. Communications is also important for patrons. Panic or assistance alarms are desired in stairwells, mid-floor locations, by elevator lobbies, in elevators, and even walkway paths leading to the parking area. The alarm call systems must also be designed with American With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility compliance in mind that would address persons with hearing and visibility disabilities. Vision impaired persons will not be driving, but it is possible that they will meet someone for a ride and can be vulnerable to attack.

If security guards are going to be used in the garage or open lots, it makes good sense and planning to design a guard tour system that accounts for the guard making patrol stops and punching in. The guard tour system creates a paper trail and accountability that the security guard is not sleeping or slacking on the job and documents the patrol patterns. Having a guard tour system requires electrical conduits and systems planning and should be considered in the initial design stages so that the asphalt or concrete does not have to be damaged to place conduit for the devices.