PurposeThis study seeks to analyse managers' perceptions of the effectiveness of both informal and formal surveillance in reducing vandalism, disturbance, and shoplifting in their shopping centers in Finland.Design/methodology/approachThe present study utilizes elements of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) in its theoretical approach. The data are based on an internet survey in Finland conducted in February and March of 2009. The sampling frame of the present study consistes of the 58 shopping centers and especially those managers who are responsible for security and safety management investments at these centers. All together 32 managers completed the survey.FindingsThis study reveales that perceived effectiveness of both formal and informal surveillance in reducing all three types of crime is high. Security guard patrols are clearly perceived to be the most effective formal surveillance method. Also, activity of personnel and premises that are easily monitored, are perceived very effective in reducing incidence of crime at the shopping centers.Research limitations/implicationsQualitative studies could reveal issues that would enable more thorough operationalization of the concepts linked the surveillance and security in shopping center context.Practical implicationsThe paper sensitizes managers to think where informal and formal surveillance work best in shopping centers.Originality/valueVery little empirical research has evaluated the effectiveness of surveillance at shopping centers. The present study fills this research gap.

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