Crime Prevention October Blog: Use of light to fight crime

For my blog this month, I’m going to ask you to consider the use of ‘light’ in the fight against crime.

We tend to see an increase in domestic burglary at this time of year as the clocks go back, which is why lighting up your home can really make a difference.

As a crime prevention officer, I visit a lot of victims of crime. One December I went to see a couple that had been burgled; their burglary took place at 4:30pm, it was dark and the burglars had chosen the property because it was the only one in the row of houses that was sat in darkness. We know this because one of the burglars was recognised and arrested, and admitted when interviewed that he chose the house based solely on that it was in darkness.

How many and what type of lighting?

Humankind has used light since the Stone Age, lighting fires at the entrances to caves to deter predators. Modern day security lighting can deter modern day predators - such as burglars and thieves!

It is thought that burglars prefer to burgle homes which are unoccupied; they like to work in darkness to conceal their activity and identity. However, just a couple of lights and a couple of plug in timers can make a huge difference to your safety and security. Your home need not look like The Blackpool Illuminations!

Lighting which comes on when there is movement can increase fear of crime - they may be more prone to tampering, and can create a nuisance for nearby neighbours. When activated, you may believe someone is in your garden; however, the light may have been triggered by a cat, a tree blowing in the wind or for a variety of other reasons.

We recommend dusk ‘til dawn lighting, which is the type that stays on through the hours of darkness, switching off before the sun comes up. Dusk ‘til dawn lighting, is welcoming, reduces fear of crime and you know instantly if the lamp has failed. Dusk ‘til dawn lighting works best when the area being illuminated is overlooked. This type of lighting should be energy efficient as it uses low energy lamps. 

Lighting inside your home

There are several devices for switching on lights in your home, including timer switches and light sensitive lamps. Timer switches are very useful and fairly cheap. They can be plugged in and used to switch on a lamp, a device which simulates the light from a TV, or a radio. Some models allow for multiple on/off periods and are ideal for an upstairs room - where a light going on and off over a period of time will give the impression that your home is occupied.

In this modern ‘connected’ age you can also buy products that allow you to switch on lights in your home before you get in from work, or from the other side of the world!

Remember! Don’t just set a light on a timer in the hall or landing area. You wouldn’t just sit in these locations in the evening - would you?

So finally, lighten up round your home, because being dim can encourage burglars in!

If you have any information about a crime, contact the police on 101 or you can call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Gerry McBride
Crime Prevention Officer
Cleveland Police