While more and more studies are being conducted all the time, there aren't as many lighting and crime statistics as one might think. Still, it's pretty clear that lighting does have an effect — after all, anecdotally, people tend to feel less safe in darkness than they do in well-lit areas. Additionally, communities tend to take more pride in their neighborhoods when there's a light pole on every road (or more), which can lead to more unofficial surveillance. That alone might mean it's a smart choice for municipalities to install new LED streetlights. Let's take a closer look at the relationship between lighting and safety to understand the issue altogether.

Street Lights and Crime: Correlation?

Below are some broad overviews to show possible correlations between street lighting and public safety.

Recent Lighting and Crime Statistics

The most reliable lighting and crime statistics come from a study conducted in New York City in 2016. The results found that "index crimes" (meaning most serious felonies) were reduced by 36% outdoors at night after new street lights were added to an area when accounting for spillover (that crimes may "spill" into surrounding, less-lit areas). They approximate that the figure without spillover is closer to a 60% reduction. There was also a 4% reduction of all index crimes, not just those committed outside at nighttime. This study is significant in showing the street lights and crime correlation because it was an actual scientific experiment using a randomized controlled trial, not simply observational or theoretical, and it seems to confirm a lot of what's been assumed for years — that lighting does reduce crime in some way. Additionally, the researchers surveyed residents and found that they felt favorable toward the new lighting installations.

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Previous Statistics Reveal Correlation with Poor Lighting and Crime

Prior to this study, scientific evaluations regarding street lights and public safety were a bit more muddled or inconclusive. Some early studies noted reductions in crime, while others showed that lighting was not an effective way to prevent crime (at least on its own). Later researchers evaluated all of these early studies to conclude that, broadly speaking, there was a 21% reduction in crime for areas with improved street lights compared to control regions — and the effect was more significant on property crimes than those of a violent nature. It is unclear if this proposed correlation between street lights and crime was related to actual situational deterrence or an effect of community pride.

Additionally, beyond residential areas, studies on parking lots have long considered lighting a crucial aspect of security to deter crime. Case studies at a mall in New York with a high rate of car break-ins saw those rates plummet with the addition of parking lot lights. It's generally assumed that parking lots and residential neighborhoods have a similar correlation between lighting and public safety.

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How To Reduce Crime Rates Through Better Street Lighting

Municipalities wanting to know: does street lighting reduce crime and how to reduce crime rates might consider adding new street lights. Beyond the statistics, there are a number of benefits to installing lighting as a way to improve safety:

  • Tends to deter criminals by increasing the likelihood that they will be seen
  • Allows the area's police presence to be more visible
  • Makes residents more likely to spend time outside, increasing informal surveillance
  • Shows that the city is committed to improvement
  • Gives the neighborhood a greater sense of pride and community, potentially increasing individuals' likeliness to intervene in or report crimes

Drawbacks to Using LED Street Lights for Crime Prevention

Generally, lighting and crime statistics suggest a strong street lights and crime correlation, and that the benefits outweigh any potential risks or drawbacks. However, theoretically speaking, there are some potential negative factors to consider:

  • Could give criminals better visibility of property or potential victims
  • May lead to more times when homes are vacant
  • Might allow offenders to see areas that are more or less likely to lead to interference in their crimes
  • Could facilitate non-violent crimes like drug dealing
  • Can lead to spillover of crime into nearby communities

Again, these are not set in stone, and every neighborhood is different. Chances are, your area would benefit from LED streetlights — even if they don't directly impact crime rates.

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Buy LED Parking Lot Lights and Street Light Fixtures for Your Community Today

So, does street lighting reduce crime? Generally speaking, it can as street lights and crime correlations are present. While every neighborhood is different, installing public parking lot LED lights and street light fixtures almost always have a positive effect. Street lights and public safety are intertwined, and your community will likely benefit from new installations one way or another. Warehouse-Lighting.com is your source for outdoor security lighting. You can trust us for high-quality LED lights and so much more. Browse our selection today to find what you need.

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