Study Shines Light On Car Theft

Wed 6th Apr 2022

Motorists across the country might need to rethink their parking habits after new research revealed that parking your car under a streetlight might actually make your car more prone to theft.

The report which has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology based on crime statistics from Thames Valley Police alongside data on changes to street lighting in Oxfordshire, Reading, Woking and West Berkshire between 2004 and 2013. The results flip theories on car crime on their head, with experts believing that car thieves don’t like working in the dark as it makes them harder to see inside, evaluate security and remove any parts without causing alarm.

The analysis focused on a range of lighting scenarios, including lights being off all together, white all-night lighting and also dimmed lighting in the early hours. The shocking results demonstrated that thefts from vehicles fell considerably, by up to 44 per cent, when street lighting was turned off between midnight and 5am.

Previous research has also shown that switching off street lights doesn’t increase crime, the complexity of the latest report sheds new light on an issue and gives motorists more to think about when thinking about where to park their car at night.

“It is to do with opportunist theft. Without lighting it’s harder to see the laptop left overnight by accident on the passenger seat, for example,” said Dr Phil Edwards, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who studied the data.

“It is clear from other studies that people like street lighting, it makes them feel safer. But studies like ours are showing that actually the effects of street lighting aren’t that clear.”