Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trees as Crime Deterrent: You Wouldn’t Believe It!

You’ve probably come to hundreds of conclusions about why your neighborhood is plagued with constant acts of crime and vandalism. It could be a new seedy venue that opened nearby, or a recent rise in poverty rates, but why your neighborhood and not the next one over? According to the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific NW and Southern Research Stations it could be because your street is not lined with big, luxurious trees

Wait… What?

It’s absolutely true! The study, which encompassed 2,813 family homes, showed that neighborhoods with large trees were less likely to have been the victims of crime or theft. It may seem like a very strange coincidence but there is actually a dead simple common-sense reason that this phenomenon occurs. A neighborhood that is full of large street trees often has the appearance of being properly cared for, and therefore more likely to have security measures in place. Since this connection occurs on a primarily subconscious level, the actual economic level of the area often holds little persuasion over this gut assumption.

Before you rush out to plant some trees, consider that since this is simply a trend but definitely not foolproof. In fact, the same study also came to the conclusion that an abundance of SMALL trees or shrubs will actually raise the crime rate by making the area a more appealing place to hide. This effect can easily be cured by routine pruning and careful placement. Just another reason to contact a professional before planting anything that could hurt your property value!

Environmentalists are always learning delightful new facts about the positive benefits of native trees and a healthy ecosystem, but I’d never have thought that home security would be one of them. Of course, the slightly improved chances are no reason to forego an alarm system but it certainly is nice to know the multitude of ways that our investments pay off.

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