Safe neighbourhood: What defines it?

Safe neighbourhood: What defines it?

Crime Safety Specialist Shamir Rajadurai

One is sure to have his or her personal checklist when making property purchasing decisions. Shamir commented that times are changing now – with crime rates on the rise, people are no longer just buying homes, they are buying into neighbourhoods instead.

Many will say that gated and guarded residences are the obvious solution. However,  Shamir  was quick to dispel this fact by stating that break-ins can happen as easily in gated and guarded developments.

This is because crime prevention and safety actually goes beyond guards and gates. Crime is still prevalent in many developments as many developers fail to implement Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). As its name suggests, CPTED is the act of  specifically altering the physical design of residential and community areas to include safety features that deter criminal activity.

Here are some key safety features to look out for when purchasing a property.



The first step in identifying a good and safe neighbourhood is to study the scale model of the development. This will enable you to ascertain whether CPTED is implemented in the neighbourhood. When implemented properly, it allows for natural surveillance, or “the eyes on the street” concept, where residents are able to look out for themselves and for one another.

For example, are there walkways present, and if yes, if there are walkways present, are they efficient in preventing snatch-theft crime? An exemplary walkway will have an obstruction such as bushes or a bar against oncoming traffic. Another point to look out for is lighting – are there enough streetlights to illuminate the pathways?

All these features play an important part in deterring crimes such as break-ins and stolen vehicles, as it inhibits criminals from making a move. Just as how unhygienic conditions will breed pests, that is how subpar environments will encourage criminal intentions.



Secondary safety measures mainly consist of the security guards provides by the security system. Among the points to ponder are:

  1. Are the security guards well trained and can they communicate in a common language?
    This is essential especially during emergencies where residents require assistance. The guardhouse at entry and exit points is another important feature. Is there a proper structure for a guardhouse and a functioning boom gate in place? (as shown in image below) Property buyers should carry out a trial run themselves to check out whether the neighbourhood’s guards are vigilant in screening those who enter and exit the neighbourhood and in deterring unsavoury behaviour.
  2. Is there CCTV surveillance in place?
    CCTV cameras are an important feature in preventing crime as they help authorities to identify and take action on the perpetrator if the crime were to happen. What is important however is the quality, positioning and functionality of the surveillance cameras. As a crime safety specialist, Shamir has come across numerous cases where the authorities are unable to take the necessary action for crimes occurring in places such as elevators and staircases, as the CCTV footage obtained was either of terrible quality or not working at all. He stressed that residents should ensure that the surveillance equipment are not mere ‘white elephants’ but are of top quality and functioning at all times.
  3. Are there emergency units nearby?
    Besides taking amenities into consideration such as shops and schools, property buyers should determine the accessibility to emergency units such as the police station and fire departments. Having them close by in this time of day is especially important for one’s safety. Enlightening the audience on burgeoning crime rates, Shamir provided worrying statistics; Last year, there were approximately 128,544 crime cases reported nationwide which is approximately 350 cases reported DAILY. He added that having a neighbourhood patrol unit (RukunTetangga) is an added advantage as this endeavour encourages a close-knit community, which goes a long way in preventing break-ins and stolen vehicles.
  4. Ascertain whether proper fencing is used.
    Property buyers should also take note of the fencing lining the external perimeter of the neighbourhood, which is the first line of defence against crime. Is proper fencing used and is it in good condition? Several developers may scrimp on costs and settle for regular wire fencing, which is easily compromised. Ideal fencing would be made of sturdy material and stand at a height of 8 feet. Also, the design of the fencing should not allow for any footholds, to render climbing impossible.


Stressing on the importance of a protected care environment, Shamir advised prospective buyers to ensure that the management pays attention to aspects such as cleanliness, faulty facilities, vacant units and overall maintenance of the property. He also stressed that purchasers should not hesitate to question developers on the make-up of the neighbourhood and what safety measures are in place, after all security is part of what they are paying for.



DISCLAIMER: The opinion stated in the article is solely of Shamir Rajadurai and is not in any form an endorsement or recommendation by Readers are encouraged to seek independent advice prior to making any investments or purchases.