Logic would indicate that vehicle theft takes place at night in dark streets, lacking public lighting, which would favor impunity for criminals. However, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in the Journal of Quantitive Criminology, debunked this assumption.
Academic Phil Edwards explained that the research was motivated by citizen fears regarding more sustainable night lighting systems. As a measure to mitigate carbon emissions, cities in Europe have chosen to turn off the lights after midnight.
“Many local authorities in the UK have introduced partial night lighting on quiet urban and rural residential roads, which see very little use after midnight, to save energy costs and reduce carbon footprints,” he said.
To arrive at a concrete result, the researchers analyzed data from almost 10 years, observing the behavior of criminals with partial night lights, with dimming after midnight and constant bright white light.
The research found no relationship between increased crime or theft and darker streets, it posited. New Atlas. One of his most striking findings was the reduction in thefts from parked vehicles after a street introduced night lighting. “In fact, turning off the street lights at midnight caused a 50% drop in robberies,” he elaborated.
He also observed a “crowding effect”: criminals seem to move away from streets with night lighting, to park on well-lit ones. On average, nearby well-lit streets showed a 1.5-fold increase in vehicle thefts that coincided with the reduction in thefts on partially lit streets.
Although it was not the goal, Phil Edwards research has an explanation for the behavior of antisocials. “It is possible that when the lights go out after midnight, criminals consider that the costs of committing a crime, such as using a flashlight that would likely arouse suspicion among residents and the risk of being witnessed, outweigh the benefits” , estimated.
According to the academic, “when the lights go out after midnight, the streets are likely to be almost dark, which means that any potential criminal may have difficulty seeing if there are valuables inside the vehicles, so they can choose to move to other sites.