Lighting and Lighting Systems

Lighting has been used as a means for preventing crime since the dawn of time.  Properly applied lighting promotes the positive use of space, reduces fear and increases natural surveillance.

Good lighting is one of the most cost effective deterrents to crime, but what is good lighting?  Ideally, a good lighting system would reproduce daylight.  Realistically, however, the system must furnish a high level of visibility and at the same time a low level of glare.  One of the most critical problems is that the evenness of outdoor light is more important than an absolute level.  Too much lighting can actually be a hazard in itself.  To avoid these conditions transitional lighting should be considered as a part of the lighting plan.

  • Indoor lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied.
  • If you are going to be away, use an automatic timer to turn interior lights on and off at normal times.
  • Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places. Install exterior lighting near porches, all doorways, garage doors, and other points of entry.
  • Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken by a burglar.
  • Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching.
  • Install motion-sensing lights, which turn on automatically as someone enters your property.

Lighting – Exterior

A useful addition to perimeter security can be exterior lighting, either switched manually or automatically operated. Lighting does have its limitations - burglaries often take place during daylight hours; if the light is activated, someone has to notice it - and take action.

The most common form of lighting is passive infra-red which is activated when someone comes into its field of vision. The light can be set to stay on for a set time and then it will re-set if the cause of its activation is no longer present. A passive infra-red unit can activate single or multiple lights.

Lights can be useful on the approach to a front or rear door or garage, not only lighting up if someone approaches your house, but also when you approach, so that you can see if anyone is lurking in the shadows. It must be remembered though that lights can be activated by certain animals. Also, you do not want the light to be activated every time your neighbors go into their garden or when someone walks past the front of your property. However, the field of activation can be adjusted. You must also make sure that your light does not intrude into your neighbor’s windows or those of passing vehicles - light pollution can often be at the centre of many disputes.

An alternative is to fit low pressure sodium lights which are operated by a photo-electric cell. This turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. It is a much less obtrusive light and, although it is on all night, it can be cheaper to run than spotlights.

Lighting – Interior

It is sensible to use a downstairs room with a drawn curtain and sufficient light inside to suggest that the room is occupied. A light should not be left on solely in the hall - a thief may guess that the premises are unoccupied as it is not normal for the occupants to spend all night only in the hall!

There are many automatic devices available - that will turn lights on and off randomly and may be set to control other electrical appliances such as the radio or television. Automatic switching will help to convince the thief that the house is occupied.

Most of the time security lighting will be all that is necessary to scare off a potential intruder.  You must make sure that your physical defenses - the locks, the bars and window bolts - will resist attack. Let your neighbors know that you are out. You can also inform Taylor Police that you are away.

Source:  American Crime Prevention Institute