You have all your outdoor lights lit up but your neighbour has theirs turned off; two very different views from the street.
Which house is a burglar likely to target?
Conventional wisdom says your home is safer. Everyone knows that outdoor lights deter burglars because they don’t want be seen, right?
Well, that’s not always the case.
Several studies have shown that outdoor lights are not the effective deterrents most people think they are.
So should you turn yours off or remove them completely?
No, you should not.
If you look at most of these studies, they only considered situations where an outdoor light is the sole security measure.
Security lights on their own are not very helpful
It makes sense that just using outdoor lights on their own is not enough.
Burglars are not dumb, at least most of them. They will not stay away from a house simply because the yard is brightly lit.
In some cases, it might even make it easier for them break into your home without making any sounds.
They will look for other weak points to determine whether your home is an attractive target. In some cases, they will just walk right up to the door and knock to check if someone’s home.
So leaving outdoor lights on when you go on vacation will not deter all burglars. It’s even worse if you leave the light on during the day. They’ll know you are not home.
Another problem with relying on outdoor lights only is that they cannot stop a burglar in their tracks like a dog or alarm would.
Unlike a CCTV camera, they also cannot store evidence of their criminal actions.
Here’s the bottom line: outdoor lights do deter burglars but only when used right and together with other security measures.
How to use outdoor lights to deter burglars
Here’s how to make sure your outside lights actually protect your home from burglars both when you are home and away.
1. Install a camera
A camera not only acts as an additional deterrence, it will also record evidence of wrongdoing that could prove very helpful in the near future.
2. Use motion sensor lights
Motion sensor lights act like a visual alarm. They can alert you, a neighbour or a dog that there is an intruder.
Another bonus of motion-activated lights is that they save you money since they don’t use as much energy as lights that stay on all night long.
Install the lights near points of entry such as the front door and back door. Make sure they are bright enough to illuminate a wide area.
3. Don’t make your absence obvious
The worst thing you can do when you go on vacation or a long trip is to leave the outside lights on. A burglar casing your house will know you are not home when the lights don’t go off in the morning.
If you are going to be away from home for a while, put the lights on a timer or get smart lights that you can control remotely from your phone.
Alternatively, buy outside lights that come on when it’s dark and go off in the morning.
4. Ask your neighbours to watch your home
When you are going on vacation, ask your neighbours to keep an eye out on your house especially at night.
With the outside lights on, they can easily see someone approaching the house. They’ll also notice when a motion sensor light comes on.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 60% of burglaries in the UK happen at night.
So it’s worth investing in good quality outside lights. Just make sure you use them properly.
Most importantly, do not rely on security lights alone to keep your home safe. They should be just one of the security measures you use.