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Reducing lighting reduces crime - by experiment

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#1 Tonk

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:47 AM

Yesterdays Sunday Times has a report on the effect of reducing lighting in a number of counties in the UK over the last few years.

The full article is behind a pay wall but the lead in has these comments:

Councils who switched off street lights to save money in the recession are reporting that crime has gone down.

We knew that switching off lights would save money and carbon emissions and give us a better view of the night sky. What is now being demonstrated is that it can reduce crime, too. We are witnessing the death of the idea that light makes us safe. It had made Britain one of the brightest places on the planet at night-time when viewed from space.


The portal to the article is here


http://www.thesunday.../article1326...

If anyone has access to the full article - could they summarise it - thanks

#2 Achernar

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 02:10 PM

When the criminals fear what else may be lurking in the dark with them, how can crime not go down? Many of them probably couldn't see well at night to begin with.

Taras

#3 magic612

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 02:46 PM

Fantastic - wish I had access to the full article, but the first few paragraphs are enough. I've posted it to both my Twitter and Facebook feeds.

#4 richard7

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 05:21 PM

It's good news that maybe someone is waking up. finally.

#5 darknesss

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 09:24 PM

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Are thieves afraid of the dark or what?

#6 Tonk

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 03:46 AM

Are thieves afraid of the dark or what?


No - but darkness makes it harder to case the property and spot weaknesses such as open windows etc. Having to carry and use a flash light at night increases the risk of being spotted or caught.

We had a a small spate of burglaries in our road a few years back. The thieves were just driving up and down roads looking for (slightly) open windows and accessing if they could quickly climb a pipe or such like to do a hit-and-run job. No need to get out of the car while doing this bit! Our neighbour had his golf clubs removed from an upstairs room this way. Now the interesting thing is we have no street lights - but he was flood lighting the front of his house giving the drive-by thieves a perfect setup to spot the open window. We keep our house in pitch black at night. Even the porch light is off when we are not expecting visitors. This way anybody casing our house will have to walk up a short drive and scan the house with a flashlight. This is just riskyier so the criminals try something easier - like our neigbours with their helpful lighting :shrug:

Oh as an added deterant we put a few empty bottles at the base of downpipes. Trying to climb the pipe in the dark is going to knock over bottles and creates such a noise racket that it a) scares off thieves and b) wakes us up. A load of light does not have this deterent and alerting benefits.

#7 George N

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:55 PM

I’ve mentioned these lights/crime cases before, but:

In State College, PA, the students at Penn State (a huge school) often walk a road (suburban neighborhood) to reach popular student “watering holes” (party bars). A few years ago there were a number of rapes of students walking this route back to campus late at night. The city’s response was to install very bright street lighting. Several years later a group of home owners along the route asked the city to remove the lights, noting that they were very annoying, and there was no evidence that they had impacted the crime rate in the area. The city council agreed that there was no evidence that the lights impacted crime in the area. One member said that while the lights probably have no impact “they make the students feel safer”. This argument influenced the council to deny the request to remove the bright lights.

In my local area, one town has experienced an increase in drug sales along “Main Street” related to gang activity. A “local group of concerned citizens” petitioned the town to install much brighter lights along Main Street, despite the police chief saying that they would just make it easier for the drug dealers to count their cash. After some research the local newspaper found that the “concerned citizens group” was actually made up of the store owners along the street, and that some of them were really of the belief that brighter lights would bring in more business by calling attention to their businesses. The paper also noted that the gang activity was possibility related to these same businesses opening up their upper floors to ‘after-hours raves’ for youth.

Following ‘last call’ at the bars in my local city, there are often street conflicts between the ‘local youth’ and the large contingent of partying college students. One incident ended in a fight and death, watched by a large cheering group. Not surprisingly this resulted in many calls for the installation of “increased lighting” in the area. However, the people living in the area noted that, at legal closing time, the bars quickly herd their patrons out their back doors into a tight central courtyard that has only one exit, on the far side. This only invites the partiers to ‘settle things’ that had developed inside the bars. The bright lights only facilitate this, and for most of the night, hardly anyone is in this courtyard. The city made the bars empty out their front doors at closing time, and much of the problem ended.

#8 Edward Swaim

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:47 PM

A few years ago, some drug dealers renting a house down our street did a brisk business right under a very bright streetlight in their yard. As the police watched and gathered evidence the light never bothered the criminals a bit. We neighbors could see it all, clear as daylight.

#9 Seanem44

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:47 AM

It makes sense. If one cannot see what they are robbing, they will not attempt the crime.

If it is dark, in order to see they would need a flashlight which would only raise suspicion.

The dark has a psychological effect, which is one of the reasons us silly humans want things so bright in the first place. The fear of the unknown. Kind of like the Ocean. Criminals fall prey to this as well.

#10 George N

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 11:24 AM

......
The dark has a psychological effect, which is one of the reasons us silly humans want things so bright in the first place. The fear of the unknown. ......


A few years ago I was doing some wide-field imaging on the shore of Indian Lake, NY (central Adirondacks – SQM readings of 21.65), and there were two guys fishing nearby. A young couple staying at my landlord’s 8 unit motel came walking down the road to the lake carrying a super bright Coleman gas lantern. I said nothing but one of the fishermen called out “What’s a’matter? Are you guys afraid of the dark?” They said “We’re worried about the bears.” After we finally stopped laughing, we assured the couple that a) bears are not afraid of lights, and b) seeing one is no help, because a black bear can out-run a race horse for short distances. If she really wants to eat you, you’re supper! As all of that sank in, they quickly went back up to the motel.

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:12 AM

To me, darkness is natures way of telling you the day is done...its now time to relax, enjoy the stars coming out, and then sleep.

#12 barasits

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 01:57 PM

To me, darkness is natures way of telling you the day is done...its now time to relax, enjoy the stars coming out, and then sleep.

:like:
Very well said.

Geoff

#13 bumm

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 09:23 PM

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Are thieves afraid of the dark or what?


I've worked on a few Summer jobs with some small time criminal types, and the one's I've known are about as superstitious as anyone. I'd have to say, yes, many of them ARE afraid of the dark.
Marty

#14 csrlice12

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:09 PM

When I was a kid, when you saw someone with a flashlight in the yard, chances are you were hunting nightcrawlers for fish bait...guess we still are, except the night crawlers grew legs and got bigger....but the fish won't care.....

#15 BigC

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:26 AM

When the criminals fear what else may be lurking in the dark with them, how can crime not go down? Many of them probably couldn't see well at night to begin with.

Taras

In my area some of the surprises you might find in the dark are: skunks,coyotes,cats.dogs,odd lawn ornaments and rocks,barb-wire fences,...

Actually most homes are burglarized during the day when residents are gone to work.Home invasion typically target people known or thought to have cash,drugs,or guns;criminals want those three things. Best not to tell everyone how many pain pills any family member needs from the doctor,or flash cash, or brag about gun or art collections.

#16 George N

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 10:18 PM

When the criminals fear what else may be lurking in the dark with them, how can crime not go down? Many of them probably couldn't see well at night to begin with.

Taras

In my area some of the surprises you might find in the dark are: skunks,coyotes,cats.dogs,odd lawn ornaments and rocks,barb-wire fences,...

Actually most homes are burglarized during the day when residents are gone to work.Home invasion typically target people known or thought to have cash,drugs,or guns;criminals want those three things. Best not to tell everyone how many pain pills any family member needs from the doctor,or flash cash, or brag about gun or art collections.


Most of my neighbors are of the 'fur and fang' verity too. I've been face-to-face with a bear on my back deck more than once.

Good advice about keeping quite about having pain killers and guns, etc. However, I doubt bragging about my "big Dob" is likely to draw in many burglars. :)

All of the break-ins in my area have been 'inside jobs' by people who knew the victims and what they had. Fights at meth labs are happening here in the 'back woods' too.

However, from the overall light pollution prospective, home security lighting is a much smaller problem (unless it's your neighbor's light shining on your scope) than street and parking lot lights, and lighting at large public and business buildings, like schools. That lighting is partly aimed at driving and walking safety, but also aimed at preventing vandalism, drug sales, gang activity, muggings, rapes, etc. I personally don't believe that all of our lighting efforts impact these types of crimes, while I think that driving and walking safety can be fully addressed with a combination of computer-controlled 'smart lighting', shielded lights, and even lower light levels. However, it will not happen while the public is convinced of the preventive value of the lights, and local officials are afraid of being sued for contributing to accidents, etc, because of their lighting. We need research, data, and public education to change that.

#17 AE1AW

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 05:42 AM

Not only could you not case the property as well and need to carry a flashlight, but if there are no lights there are no shadows to hide in. I think shadows are so effective for hiding because a passer-by's night vision is destroyed in an otherwise well lit area, so they cant see you. You can see yourself better too, just look down at your legs when your eyes are well adjusted and you may feel exposed, that would make me scared to if I were up to no good.

#18 wargrafix

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 08:05 AM

Brighter lights do not deter crimes as the brighter lit communities still have high crime rates.

Honestly, we need to pt far harsher penalties for crimes. his would be a far better deterrent than installing brighter lights. This may sound extreme, but imagine the punishment for stealing was say, a finger cut for every time they are convicted of stealing, that would be a deterrent. Its sounds barbaric, but its the only effective solution for the present crime situation.

Honestly, if they don't want that kind of punishment then don't steal.

#19 amicus sidera

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 10:13 AM

Brighter lights do not deter crimes as the brighter lit communities still have high crime rates.

Honestly, we need to pt far harsher penalties for crimes. his would be a far better deterrent than installing brighter lights. This may sound extreme, but imagine the punishment for stealing was say, a finger cut for every time they are convicted of stealing, that would be a deterrent. Its sounds barbaric, but its the only effective solution for the present crime situation.

Honestly, if they don't want that kind of punishment then don't steal.


Given the level of corruption currently extant in the judicial system, punishments of such a permanent nature are likely ill-advised.

The Old Testament, upon which much of Western justice is based, called for only two punishments for crime: restitution or execution (there were no prisons as such). If performed by a godly and just government, pursuing such a course is highly effective; absent one, it is highly dangerous.

#20 Achernar

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 02:15 PM

With the exception of people defending themselves from death or serious injury at the hands of others' unprovoked attacks, I agree you have a point to an extent. However, I think some crimes must be punished swiftly, and very harshly.

Taras

#21 Achernar

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 02:20 PM

Here in my area you can encounter all of those plus poisonous snakes, insects, alligators, snapping turtles, locals armed with guns, vicious dogs, bats, owls, hidden drop offs and holes in the ground, cows, hogs, deer and people drunk or on drugs. Along the coast, you can add sharks such as Tigers, Makos and Bulls to that list. The alligators especially will give you a start because they can be 16-feet long and weigh 1,500 pounds, they are very dangerous and hunt at night. All of the potentially dangerous animals and locals who are very protective of their families and homes pose little danger compared to the drunk drivers on the road here at night.

Taras

#22 Tonk

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 02:34 PM

I think we have now wandered far from the topic of "reducing lighting ...". I'm not sure how this go to amputations :(

#23 wargrafix

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:51 AM

lol, I was just saying that reducing lighting could improve the crime situation, but to really deal with the crime situation, a heavy handed approach needs to be takes. The judicial system is far too soft.

Obviously smaller crimes should be dealt with in such a way that helps people to get out a life of crime. But sometimes making it scary enough could provide enough a deterrent.

#24 dawziecat

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:18 AM

I think we have now wandered far from the topic of "reducing lighting ...". I'm not sure how this go to amputations :(


:) :) :)

#25 karstenkoch

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 07:10 PM

I think much of the lighting problem may be affected by the consciously and subconsciously held (and often spiritual) belief that "evil" people love the dark and "good" people love the light. You want to live in the dark? What are you trying to hide? We've turned an allegory into a zoning ordnance.

Interesting to see actual data coming in that shows that evildoers love the light just as much.....






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