Friday 19 May 2017

Street lights increase the burglary risk

Last week my father-in-law suddenly exclaimed: "I told you so!"

Not really knowing what he was so upset about I put on a confused face and made the associated Italian hand gesture. After seven years in this beautiful country I've become quite integrated. :-)

"You're always ranting", he went on to clarify, "that street lights attract burglars rather than scare them off and blablabla but it's obvious that you're wrong!"

After he'd calmed down he finally explained what had happened. Friends of his had got burgled last Thursday, for the third time. Apparently they live in an isolated house in a street without any lights. According to him it was obvious that the absence of lights makes the house very attractive to burglars and the local authorities should do something about it immediately. Yet I shook my head in disagreement. A nice, isolated house with an easy escape route will always be on top of the burglars' list, I argued, but the absence of lights has nothing to do with it.

"Actually, the house wasn't immersed in darkness at all", I said, "so this proves my point that burglars prefer illuminated houses over those in the total dark."

My father-in-law, convinced that I was boasting, didn't take well to my refusal to accept his wisdom.

"How do you know that? You don't even know where they live!"

"True, but I know for certain that the house was bathing in light. We could walk over there at night, even try to force a door or window and we wouldn't need to use a torch at all."

"Oh really? You're just mouthing off! You don't know them. You don't know their house. You don't know the area where they live. I tell you that it's completely dark down there! It'd look better on you if you admitted that you're wrong."

"I don't need to know where they live to know for certain that the house was brightly illuminated: there was a full Moon."

It turned out that also the other two times when the house got burgled the Moon was shining brightly in the sky. As you all know, a full Moon illuminates more than all street lights combined. Therefore my point of view's still standing and has actually become stronger since in this case the burglars have always chosen nights with as much light as possible. Street lights make burglars invisible, rather than visible. They can move about without having to use a torch and there are enough shadows to hide in. Yes, it is possible that you see them but even if you did, would they draw your attention? Probably not.

In a completely dark environment, however, burglars are compelled to use a torch which, against a pitch-black background, really draws the attention. Also anti-burglary lights are much more efficient in the total dark. First of all because they can blind a burglar - who had adapted to total darkness - for minutes, and secondly because such a light would draw the attention from a mile away, whereas in an already illuminated street it wouldn't.

If you still don't believe me, please watch this video.

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