Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) represents a multi-faceted approach to crime reduction that draws upon theories from urban design, psychology and criminology. Yet there remains a lack of clarity regarding CPTED's definition and scope. CPTED has been defined by, amongst others Crowe (Crime prevention through environmental design: applications of architectural design and space management concepts, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2000), Ekblom (Eur J Crim Policy Res 17:7-28, 2011) and Armitage (Crime prevention through housing design: policy and practice, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2013), and the principles upon which it is based have seen even greater discrepancy. Conscious that these principles have primarily been defined by academics and policy-makers, this research aims to rectify this imbalance. A sample of 22 incarcerated prolific burglars from three prisons (England), were asked to describe their response to 16 images of residential housing. The results confirm that the design of residential housing influences burglar decision making, but that the principles of CPTED should be re-examined, with surveillance, and physical security a clear deterrent, yet management and maintenance and defensible space not considered as important in offender decision making.