Tend a tree, prevent a crime? The Oregonian says that is the upshot of a new U.S. Forest Service study on the effect of trees on Portland crime statistics. Among its conclusions were that houses with tall trees had less crime because trees made the area look more desirable. “Trees may indicate that a neighborhood is more cared for” and under watch by authorities, the study says. Street trees, a bigger tree canopy, and more trees were all associated with less crime.
Not all trees are crime-fighters. Shrubs and short trees that block first-floor windows or are next to a house can create hide-outs for criminals. “If you’re going to plant a tree, try not to plant it in front of a window,” said economist Geoffrey Donovan, who conducted the study with Jeffrey Prestemon. “And if you have existing trees that block windows, you should consider pruning them.” The researchers analyzed primarily property crime, robberies, and burglaries reported to a Portland police precinct from 2005 to 2007.