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Do Outside Lights Deter Burglars? Probably Not!

Amanda Li8/4/2022
Do Outside Lights Deter Burglars? Probably Not!

At the very first beginning, I wanna do a research:

How many of you still leave a light on at night to deter burglars?

You must have been immersed in safety tips like: “outdoor lighting deter crimes and does a good job in protecting your home. Do remember to leave it on while you're away or at night.”

But does it really help? How effective is porch lighting? Savvy thieves would probably not be fooled by your outside home lights, and you should also not be fooled by this so-called “expert” home security tip.

In this post, I’ll just dig a little deeper into this issue – Do outside lights deter burglars? Is it safe to leave lights on all night? Should you leave your front or back porch light on at night?

Do Outdoor Lights Deter Burglars

Does Leaving Lights on at Night Deter Burglars

Simply put, outdoor porch lights may not be as useful as you think to deter crime.

Burning the bulbs for hours is a common artificial illumination we make use of to protect home from would-be burglars at night: It could be unsafe to leave lights on all night.

It is hard to admit that, you win nothing, but a false sense of security, and you just console yourself with illusory peace of mind. Let me cut right to the chase why outdoor porch lights are helpless in burglary prevention.

Most Home Burglaries are Committed During the Day

FBI’s crime statistics in 2012 has drawn a conclusion that the majority of home burglaries happen in the daytime, rather than at night. Adding outside home lights does nothing to help prevent larceny during the day, but wastes a lot of electricity.

You are likely to be blinded to the real leading causes of residential burglaries. A least, this report proves that the darkness is not one. Instead of fooling thieves with those tricks (putting fake security signs and stickers is also one of them), you really should look for some practical and effective measures to prevent house intruders.

Burglar-proof your front door, back door and windows turns out to be much more helpful than leaving your porch lights on. Or, turn to security cameras.

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Outdoor Lighting May Increase Burglary Rather Than Decrease It

Obviously, home thieves don’t choose their targets at random. They would stroll in your neighborhood, get familiar with your daily life schedule, and try to look for easier targets. Burglars are always searching for unoccupied homes.

So having your lights on 24 hours a day while you are out for a holiday is just like a beacon to them: “I’m not at home!” And the combination of lights on and blinds closed could also create an attractive location for the burglars.

Some savvy burglars will stake out a property for weeks before striking. If they notice you turn on the lights more often when your partner, spouse, or roommate is away, they could decide to intrude during one of those time periods.

Leaving Porch Light on All Night Can Help Robbers See Their Actions

Is it safer to keep porch lights on or off? Actually, leaving the porch lights on could encourage the burglary instead of discouraging it, which may come as a surprise to many.

Sometimes, leaving your outside lights on also makes it easier for thieves to take action, especially in rural areas. A well-lit area helps thieves to avoid those items in your yard, which would cause noises. They can easily find the weak parts of your home and break in for stealing.

Outdoor Home Lights Are Useless Without Witness

Research shows that leaving your lights on at night might not be effective at deterring crime if there is no one around to see it. Outdoor lights make the burglars harder to hide, but the lightning will be useless if no one actually sees the suspicious activity.

Further still, would burglars believe that a light being on means someone’s at home? Nope, they are not that dump, actually. When they find a well-lit house, and are not sure if the homeowner is in, they will knock on the door. If no one answers the door, they would be encouraged to break in.

And if the burglars do break in with the porch lights on, there is no way to stop it or catch the thieves, if there is no witness around, whether neighbors, pedestrians or police.

Stop Burglars

How to Stop Burglars from Targeting Your Home at Night

We explained you should not take outdoor lights as the major burglar prevention while you are away, then what’s the most effective way to deter burglars at night?

Security cameras could be a useful burglar deterrent gadget. Well, speaking of home surveillance systems, I’m not trying to sell you anything at all, but I’m trying to help you make safer living environment.

Working in home security industry for years, we have done a large amount of research about home intrusions and the role a security camera plays in preventing them. It does much, much help, as a burglary deterrent, even at night, with the class-leading starlight night vision technology.

Many customers speak highly of Reolink camera’s night vision (see customer review), for capturing crystal clear videos at a distance as long as 190ft, in low light conditions:

Unlike the outdoor home lights, security cameras can let you know who is at your door, and what’s happening there at night. Some motion activated cameras can also alert you via phone if someone is trying to approach your house. Then you are able to take in-time precautions and keep burglars away.

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With the optionally solar power, you can help keep your home safe, reduce your carbon footprint, and save the cost of outdoor home light electricity.

Here are several other ways you may consider to level up your home security in a real sense:

  • Get a big dog that barks. Does having a dog deter burglars? The answer is yes! 34% of convicted burglars surveyed said that a barking dog would change their mind before breaking into a home.
  • Lock your door and windows. According to a survey of convicted burglars, 56% of them come in through either the front door or back door. Another 22% come in through a first floor window. So take the advice from the burglars and secure your door and windows with strong locks.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Neighbors can help look out for each other and can easily spot a strange. You can even start a neighborhood watch program for a real peace of mind at night.
  • Use motion activated lights. Is it safer to keep porch lights on or off? Is it safe to leave lights on all night? Confused about these questions? How about a motion activated lights? They will automatically lit up once burglars come close to scare them away.

Find the top 13 inexpensive and practical ways to stop burglars from targeting your home here.

Neighborhood Watch

What’s Your Idea?

That outdoor lights can deter crime hasn’t be backed up by statistics. As far as I can see, rather than spend time trying and testing this unreliable security measure, we would take more time and effort to improve security in other more useful ways.

Now we come back to the question I put up in the beginning: Do you leave your porch light on at night?

Keeping home and your property safe is not something to be taken lightly. So I’d love to know how you look at the contributions outside lights make in deterring burglars, along with other effective tips you’ve used to stop break-ins day and night. After all, we share the same goal – to make homes safer and less likely to become a target of opportunistic crime.


All Comments Are Welcome

A blog writer and content marketer by day, and a reader by night. A coffee addict, and lover of cool stuff and new tech. She's been diving into home security industry from the last two years, and sharing practical security tips and tricks. Love the idea of being warm and secure, that's exactly what home should be.