Do Motion Sensor Lights Really Deter Crime?
In the hope of keeping oneself and one’s belongings safe, many people use motion sensor lights.
The hope is that when interrupted by a sudden, bright light, a criminal will get spooked and not continue their mission.
But do motion sensor lights really deter crime?
How motion sensor lights might help
Undeniably, outdoor lighting that comes on with movement draws attention.
If you are awake in the evening and your motion sensor lights come on, you will probably notice and be on at least somewhat high alert.
You may look outside to see what may have triggered the light.
This level of awareness and attention alone is helpful in minimizing the chances of a break-in. A burglar who notices human movement inside the house is likely to give up. A sudden bright light may also startle a potential burglar, causing them to hide or leave the premises.
A study of convicted burglars by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology found that 24% of them would consider the presence of outdoor lighting when choosing a home to target. Motion sensor lights are definitely a factor that may help prevent a burglary.
How motion sensor lights might hurt
Although motion sensor lights might prevent some burglaries, they can also end up helping the burglar.
Criminal justice expert Marcus Felson says that lights can help criminals by allowing them to see.
After all, if there is a clearly visible path, a criminal would be able to see how best to navigate it without making noise
. Felson says that motion sensor lights are only valuable when people are around to see or the offender has reason to believe he will be seen.
For example, in a rural area at a time when the burglar is confident you are either not home or soundly asleep, motion sensor lights will ultimately help the burglar.
How motion sensing lights might not matter
FBI crime statistics show that the majority of burglaries occur during the day, making motion sensor lights somewhat irrelevant.
Additionally, the majority of burglars carefully observe a home before trying to enter it.
Burglaries are more likely to occur when they know the occupants are not home.
An unlawful entry at night in an unoccupied home isn’t likely to be stopped by a motion sensor light alone. A criminal could also potentially disable a motion sensor light in advance of their entry after being made aware of it when casing the property.
What’s the bottom line?
Motion sensor lights have some definite advantages and may potentially prevent some burglaries.
Because they are not on at all times, they are a more cost-effective type of nighttime lighting.
They also have other advantages, like helping you see when coming home or leaving at night yourself. T
hey can also provide peace of mind by alerting you of outside movement.
However, they are not necessarily a huge deterrent to most burglaries and they may even aid a criminal. Other deterrents like a home security system, security cameras, and even having a dog are more likely to prevent a burglary.
What do you think? Are motion sensor lights worth it when it comes to preventing crime? Do you use motion sensor lights?