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Shining a Light: Does More Lighting Mean Less Crime?

Shining a Light: Does More Lighting Mean Less Crime?
Shining a Light: Does More Lighting Mean Less Crime?

Not everything feels particularly good in the dark.

Most humans naturally fear it, most likely dating back to our ancestors’ phobias about night-time predators when sleeping in the open. And, it’s a normal part of childhood development that many adults never completely leave behind.

Let’s flick a switch and illuminate the situation.

Regarding security at an empty commercial property, it’s logical to assume that, as day turns into night, the building becomes more exposed to risk as an inverse relationship. This article examines the importance of lighting, its effectiveness, and how the correct illumination solution could play a key role in looking after your property when it’s not in use.

 

Night and Day

Intrusion into or damage to an unoccupied office, retail outlet, or warehouse can happen anytime during a 24–hour period — not just at night.

In fact, moving away from the commercial side for a moment, we all know that residential burglaries often occur in daylight. If an opportunity presents itself, an open window on a sunny day will give an intruder all-too-easy access. Equally, any not-in-use commercial property will become vulnerable simply due to a lack of human presence.

Yet, an absence of light, especially during the longer, darker winter nights, can make things worse. Or, increase the concern that the property is more susceptible.

As dusk descends, your empty commercial premises emits a seductive siren call; trespassers, vandals, fly-tippers and would-be squatters may have designs on your unused commercial property, and tonight could be the night – their very own hidden blanket of shadows offering them all the cover they need.

What Is The Purpose of Lighting for Vacant Commercial Properties?

Lighting works hard to keep your buildings and land safe until your new tenants take up occupancy.

As a detective. It provides light to assist detection. Consistency and uniformity in its layout and use will allow potential incomers, damage, or objects left lying about to be observed and recorded.

As a visual deterrent. Effective lighting can be highly off-putting to an intruder along with motion sensor detectors, CCTV and alarms. To put it another way, “glare” lights, for instance, create a feeling of uncertainty, as they may not be able to see what’s behind the lights.

For proof. As a commercial landlord, you are putting someone in the spotlight who does not want to be there. Well-lit, focused images can be passed to the authorities to help apprehend those unwise or impulsive enough not to beat a hasty retreat. Moreover, they won’t be keen to feature in filmed, admissible evidence in a courtroom.

To increase visibility. For perimeter lighting in particular, robust lighting can increase the number of people on the streets around your property’s edges. By making an area more conspicuous, there’s nowhere to hide.

In effect, you could call this situational crime prevention.

For marketing. Yes, you may not realise it, but your branding on an illuminated sign on a fence or wall can help to increase people’s memory retention of your business name.

To prevent accidents. Clearway refers to this issue regularly in our articles, but should an endorsed third party, when entering your property trip, fall or suffer an injury due to insufficient illumination, you will be responsible. This also applies to unauthorised individuals, however frustrating this may seem. You are accountable for everyone’s safety.

As an investment in the neighbourhood. To coin a phrase, improving community conditions with high-quality lighting is positive optics for your business. People feel safer because they are safer; their surroundings are more secure.

The Limits of Lighting?

So, Clearway recognises that robust lighting can be a crime-fighting superhero.

On the other hand, not everyone may agree.

Some challenge its effectiveness, claiming that it could encourage and support the criminal in certain cases. Potentially, an intruder can see what to attack or steal, fully appreciate how “high-quality” his graffiti is, find it easier to get through locks, and identify more locations to target.

And, when the police arrive, a clearly illuminated escape route helps him jump over the nearest wall to run off into the night. Therefore, great lighting per se may not be the best way to reduce crime. It has to be thought out carefully and implemented with other security considerations to be effective. It complements more apparent solutions such as access control, CCTV and alarms. Nevertheless, it still stands tall in the safeguarding environment.

The principles and concepts behind artificial lighting are detailed, so don’t be in the dark.

Get in touch with us for advice on installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance.

What’s YOUR Best Lighting Scheme?

Each lighting scheme has its distinct benefits, so again – our advice is to take advice; most definitely, you don’t want one design to compromise another. Here are a few key types to consider:

Perimeter Lighting

Perimeter lighting provides a well-illuminated strip around a protected area, meaning a potential trespasser must pass through this highly-lit area. Ideally, it will cause a physical delay, keeping them under observation for a short period.

Glare Lighting

This produces a very bright, high-intensity light directly towards the intruder, disabling or reducing their ability to see what lies beyond and behind the illumination. Fittings need to be spaced closely together, thus ensuring that any patrolling guards cannot be seen behind a perimeter fence.

Event Activated Lighting

This lighting system enables an unauthorised approach towards vacant premises to be picked up. Activated by movement, it switches into light through sensors.

Entrance/Check Point Lighting

The lighting levels around entrance points tend to be higher than normal for safety reasons. In addition, this forces drivers to slow down before going through an entrance gate. If you need to identify car paint colours, confer with Clearway about the lighting type you will need. Remember that you must meet BS 5489 standards regarding minimum levels for road traffic, if necessary.

Time-Switch Lighting

Through ambient, light-level cell sensors, you can control the lights at your perimeter or those mounted onto your building or entrance points. They adjust automatically according to changing day length. Alternatively, remotely operated time switches can be used to complement CCTV cameras.

This solution could make it seem like your property is occupied, even when empty.

Some Illuminating Essentials

Adding security lighting into the mix must be done with care and attention; there are specific standards to meet, which include the following:

  • It must not be dangerous or cause a hazard. Are there vehicles travelling in the vicinity – contractors, estate agents, tradespeople, for example?
  • Don’t let it be a nuisance. The neighbouring properties may be thrown into bright, sharp relief; you’ll need to consider the community at large.
  • Don’t disadvantage security patrols. Lighting could affect them if they move between areas with different illumination strengths.
  • Is it cost-effective? It will need to be affordable to run and offer value for money.
  • It must be safe. Some lighting may contain toxic materials. Always check whether this applies to your property.
  • It must be resilient and reliable. Buy cheap, buy twice. Malfunctioning lighting will not earn its keep. And – is it weather-proof?
  • It must comply with Local Authority and other statutory requirements. Ask Clearway about this: we have the knowledge and experience you need to remain compliant.

What Clearway Thinks

  • Lighting can often be overlooked, but in Clearway’s opinion and experience, it’s critical. Knowing that, even when you’re hundreds of miles away, your vacant property is well-lit offers you much-needed peace of mind. In our experience, illuminated areas discourage potential criminals by creating visibility.
  • Also, lighting reduces the risk of accidents and ensures that people feel safe, should they need to enter or walk around the property for any reason. And don’t forget: with exceptional lighting, the efficiency of security cameras could be next-level – with pin-sharp detail just when you need it.
  • Then, there’s your insurance. Adequate lighting may be on your must-have list. With outstanding lighting, the efficiency of security cameras can be next-level. Did we mention property values? Security lighting adds value, making your commercial asset more attractive to prospective buyers or tenants.

All in all, the future safeguarding and protection of your property looks bright.

Gideon Reichental

Vacant Property Security Consultant

Gideon is an experienced property specialist with a commitment to excellent customer service and support. With over eight years dedicated to the niche field of vacant property security and services, Gideon has been at the forefront of developing and implementing best practices and successful strategies for safeguarding vulnerable properties, demonstrating a profound understanding of the complexities involved. His hands-on experience includes managing portfolios of over 200 vacant properties directly, alongside senior management roles overseeing broader portfolios that encompass more than 2000 properties.

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