People frequently use lighting to protect their homes and businesses from burglars and thieves. Some may say that keeping the lights on only lets the burglar see better what he is stealing. Keeping the lights on all of the time may not be necessary or effective. But judicious use of lighting can help protect your property.
The whole idea of lighting an area is to allow people who are nearby to see crime in progress. The assumption, and the hope, is that when they see suspicious activity they will call 911. This increases the risk to the burglar. Burglars, car thieves and car prowlers do not want to be seen since that gives more of a chance that they would be caught. So, you hear advice to park your car in a well-lit area of a busy parking lot where people are more likely to see a car prowl or a car theft.
When to use lighting effectively can be important. In residential areas, burglaries usually happen during the day when many people are away at work. So lighting up a house constantly during the day may not be helpful. In fact according to some people, it may tip off a burglar that people are not home. Car prowls often occur at night in residential areas at times of night or early morning when most of us are asleep. Lighting up the area where you park your car can help deter a car prowler, especially if you have security cameras covering the area. Lights connected to motion detectors can also help. If a car prowler enters an area where there is a motion detector, the suddenness of the light coming on can startle the car prowler scaring him away.
Another use of lighting is to give an idea that people are in the area. So, using lights like you would naturally when you are at home gives a potential burglar the idea not enter your house. This can be important when you go on vacation. Having timers set to the normal times that you are in the house can make a potential burglar choose another home.
A lot of this thinking is meant for areas of denser populations like in housing developments of the suburbs. Houses in the country which may be more isolated from their neighbors may not benefit from extensive lighting. Certainly, there will not be many people around to see a crime under the lights.
Just as important to lighting may be in knowing your neighbors and watching out for each other. Letting a neighbor know that you will be gone and asking that they watch your house can be just as effective as the lighting of your house.
While lighting can deter crime, it often only marginally adds to deterrence. It does not do to rely exclusively on any one prevention technique. If you have the lights on but keep your doors unlocked or your windows open, then all you have done is light the way for a burglar to enter your house.
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