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National Home Security Month: Does Autumn bring falling leaves and rising crime?

Autumn has long been the season associated with increasing numbers of burglaries, but is that really the case?

By Tony Blockley - 3 October 2017

As part of National Home Security Month, Tony Blockley, Deputy Head of Policing at the University of Derby looks at the correlation between crime levels and the time of year.

Autumn brings colder weather and darker evenings when the clocks going back which can create a security challenge for the homeowners. Suddenly it becomes quite obvious who is at home and who isn’t. But does the phenomenon of autumn nights only apply to burglaries or do increasing crime numbers always relate to the season, the weather and even the light?

One could argue that burglaries may increase due to the opportunities presented to the burglar, or that some crimes are better committed in the dark thanks to the level of protection it affords them. This perhaps doesn’t extend to violent crime, and particularly violence in public, which is often associated with drinking culture and anti-social behaviour within towns and cities as a by-product of warm summer evenings.

This, therefore, extends to general anti-social behaviour and the effect that the weather has. In days gone by there was a saying that ‘rain is a policeman’s best friend’ due to the fact that during a cold rainy period people didn’t walk around. Perhaps even burglars don’t like to get wet.

The relationship between lighting and crime

There are converse arguments, and some research suggests that there is no apparent relationship between lighting and crime. The increase of lighting does not necessarily deter or prevent crime. There is the additional concern that lighting could produce a false sense of security for the victim who feels safer in the light, alternatively, it could allow criminals to actually see what they are doing and so, in conclusion, there is no coherent argument either way.

The argument for crime reduction through increased street lighting is not dissimilar to that which is often proposed when people argue that crime has increased as there is a lack of police officers on the street corners like the ‘good old days’. The reality was there was never a police officer on every street corner, although there were more police officers walking around, I should know after four years of walking a foot beat. Was that effective, in reality, no. It was great to meet people and could be seen as a deterrent, but for how long? It would take several hours to walk a beat and so the likelihood of catching a criminal ‘at it’ were very low.

Within this debate, we should also probably consider the developing crime types and how that has changed. Now criminals can commit the most audacious crime from their sofa which clearly has no dependency on the time of year the elements or the lighting conditions.

Recognising that there may be a correlation between crime, the location, and even the elements, we should take this into consideration within our everyday lives. There are some simple tips for people to take that would act as a deterrent to criminals and also provide some degree of security.

Deterrents and security

If you drive down the road in the dark, the houses without lights on really stand out. Today there is no reason why there cannot be lights on in your house whenever you want them to be. Technology allows for simple timer plugs or switches to internet-based solutions that provide lighting in one or more rooms at any given times. You could even have the TV or radio playing. It’s about impression – make it look like someone is in even if they aren’t.

Why would you park your car in an isolated location, away from the public and in a dark place? Perhaps this is the only space that was available or perhaps it was further to walk or not thinking about when you would be returning. Clearly, this scenario presents a number of criminal opportunities, breaking into the car without the fear of being seen or being able to prey on the car owner as they approach, not being overlooked and probably with no fear of being disturbed.

As a society, we cannot and it is highly unlikely that we ever will eradicate crime, so the best thing to do is to make your property less desirable to the criminal and hopefully they will move on. Whilst this may sound unscrupulous or underhand it is a reality, indeed if everyone had the same attitude then it would go a long way to reducing crime.

The message has to be to prevent your house or property being the most attractive to thieves, either through creating the image that someone is present, fitting appropriate security devices to ensure that people cannot easily break in, whether a house, shed, garage or car. Don’t leave property on show or advertise your wears just as you wouldn’t walk down the street showing your wallet or purse and all the cash and credit cards.

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About the author

Tony Blockley
Discipline Head: Policing

Tony is Head of Policing at University of Derby, responsible for development and delivery of the policing programme at both undergraduate and postgraduate. This includes the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, the accredited pre-join degree, Policing and Investigations and at MSc Criminal Investigation, Police Leadership, Finacial and Digitial investigation. 

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