The real window’s on the left. The fake window’s on the right.
Chris Toepfer, an artist / builder in Chicago, covers vacant homes with plywood painted to look like windows to disguise the fact that the home is empty. The theory is that if the windows don’t look boarded up, but are covered to prevent vandalism, crime will be reduced and the property values of surrounding homes won’t plummet.
He obviously believes in the broken windows theory, talked about in detail in an 1982 article in The Atlantic Monthly:
Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones. Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated by window-lovers; rather, one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing. (It has always been fun.)
Broken Windows – The police and neighborhood safety, The Atlantic Monthly>>
On vacant homes, the illusion of windows creates authentic results, Medill Reports, Chicago>>