A Broken Window is an Invitation to Crime

by | Dec 10, 2020 | News

 Everyone wants to live and work in a community where they feel safe. We can all do our part and start with identifying areas where littering is a problem. 

Franklin Allen, Jr.

Public Safety Director

One of the biggest factors affecting communities is the surge in crime. Everyone wants to live and work in a community where they feel safe. As with any long-term project, one must begin with a plan of action and implement that plan in small incremental steps. Within the Community Improvement Districts the first step begins with the picking up and prevention of litter.

According to the “Broken Windows Theory” of crime people can be attracted to trespass, litter and even commit theft if they sense from their environment that it’s OK to disregard rules such as when “no litter” signs are ignored. (Coghlan, 2008). The Broken Windows Theory is a simple concept which associates broken windows in buildings representing the CID and if those windows are not repaired, it will lead to more disorder specifically, low level offenses such as littering and graffiti thus creating more disorder in a degrading neighborhood. (Coghlan, 2008). In 2008 Kees Keizer of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands conducted six (6) independent experiments to test the Broken Windows Theory. It was discovered that when an area was purposely exposed to excessive litter the crime rate for nuisance offenses doubled. (Coghlan, 2008).

Recent studies have concluded that, “neighborhoods and business districts that are greener and cleaner are often safer”. (Unknown, 2015). Also, these studies have shown that people are more likely to break rules when there’s litter on the ground or graffiti on buildings. The biggest take away from the Broken Windows Theory is that the little things make an enormous impact on crime rates. Neighborhoods with lower rates of crime have been noted to be regularly maintained, cleaner and greener. A neighborhood or business district that looks well taken care of seems to discourage would be crime. (Unknown, 2015).

We can all do our part and start with identifying areas where littering is a problem. As property owners you can do four (4) simple things that will make a big difference.

            (1). Make sure your properties and clean and well maintained.

            (2). Mow the grounds regularly.

            (3). Hide ugly garbage containers out of sight.

            (4). Urge tenants to keep their area clean and pick-up litter when they see it.

Just by taking these small steps we can begin the process of making our world a little cleaner and at the same time reduce crime in our area and make our District safer and cleaner.


Coghlan, A. (2008, November 21). Graffiti and Litter Lead to More Street Crime. Retrieved from New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16096-graffiti-and-litter-lead-to-more-street-crime/

Unknown. (2015, April 3). How Surprising Neighborhood Factors Like Trees & Trash Impact Crime Rates. Retrieved from ezLandlord: https://articles.ezlandlordforms.com/general-property-management/how-surprising-neighborhood-factors-like-trees-and-trash-impact-crime-rates/