Weatherford Police Department has started a new program aimed at preventing thefts or burglaries at residents’ homes.

The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program involves police evaluating homes and making suggestions about how home features can be adjusted. WPD Community Services Officer Paul Tumlin said the home can be evaluated inside and out, including vehicles. Security systems, locks, fencing, and visibility from the road are also assessed.

“If something’s happening, can your neighbors see what’s happening or if we’re patrolling, can we see what’s happening from the road because obviously we don’t get out and walk in people’s yards at night for the most part,” Tumlin said. “We want to be able to see the home from the roadway. That’s a really important one.”

Landscaping is also looked at because sometimes bushes can hide invading criminals, Tumlin said. He recommended trimming trees, cutting bushes and mowing the lawn.

“If you have bushes in front of your window and you have a space there, that could allow a criminal to get behind those bushes, no one even knows they’re there, and they’re getting in your window or something, and we’d never even know it,” Tumlin said.

Property should also be maintained as to not be an inviting space for criminals, he said.

“When you kind of neglect the property or abandoned property kind of invites crime or invites people that are kind of up to no good, so if we can maintain an appealing area, appealing to your neighbors, appealing to the community, then people aren’t going to want to be spending time in a place they know is manicured and maintained, that people are there,” Tumlin said.

Tips are given at the discretion of a homeowner’s budget, Tumlin said.

“Of course, I’d want to go to every house and say, hey install this, cut down these trees, do this,” Tumlin said. “Obviously, we can’t do that to everybody.”

Lighting is also suggested to discourage criminals, despite the argument that leaving lights on helps criminals do their business, Tumlin said.

“From our experience and from cases that we’ve worked, lighting is good, lighting deters a lot,” Tumlin said. “Once it’s nighttime and people are out and about, their eyes are going to adjust anyways. It’s not that difficult to work in a very low-light area once they’re out there a while, but if you have lights that light up your entire property— the sides, the front, the back— that really deters a lot of people from doing anything.”

The evaluation takes about an hour, and the officer doesn’t have free roam at the house and only goes to the areas that homeowners want to be evaluated, Tumlin said.

Right now, WPD is only evaluating homes, but the program could expand to commercial properties as well. Tumlin said WPD hopes to work with developers to make suggestions about home safety needs.

Tumlin said WPD Chief Lance Arnold had the idea to start up the program to continue collaborating with the community and to take proactive steps to preventing crime.

“I was familiar with the program from my previous agency and I am a big believer in the concept of doing things that can reduce your chances of becoming a victim,” Arnold said. “I mentioned the general idea to Officer Tumlin and he ran with it. He was able to take my very general idea and turn it into a great opportunity for our community.”

The home evaluation is free for residents, Tumlin said. Homeowners can schedule appointments for the evaluation by calling Tumlin at 682-229-2612 or emailing him at ptumlin@weatherfordtx.gov.