How to Use Lighting to Prevent Burglary and Home Break-Ins

How to Use Lighting to Prevent Burglary and Home Break-Ins

A home burglary happens every 13 seconds. In the summer months, the burglary rate increases. Due to summer vacations, July and August are the most frequent months for home break-ins.

Beyond the property losses associated with burglaries (totaling around $4.6 billion per year in the U.S.), home break-ins also cause an unquantifiable amount of psychological damage (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

You may never feel the same again knowing that someone has invaded your personal space. Relaxing on vacation may become a thing of the past.

If you are planning a vacation or an extended leave of absence, it’s important to take some precautions first. And one of the best ways you can prevent burglaries and break-ins during your stay is with strategic use of lighting.

How to Use Lighting to Prevent Burglary 

Even if you have a home security system, you will want strategic lighting in place to see the burglar’s face, clothing, and other identifiers. Criminals don’t like to be seen, and for good reason. By lighting up your home, thieves can be easily identified by cameras, neighbors, and patrol cars.

Burglars are opportunists. They are looking for easy targets. By lighting up your home, you are making their job a lot more difficult.

Outdoor Lighting

Well-Lit Home – Eliminate as many dark areas around your home as you can. This is the perfect time to invest in landscape lighting upgrades and modifications.

  • Make sure your exterior lights are at least 7 feet off the ground. You don’t want to make it easy for someone to simply unscrew the bulb.
  • Don’t let your lights stream into neighbors’ windows.

Timers – Make your home look occupied by installing light timers for your outdoor lights. Automatic timers can easily turn your light off during the day and on when the sun goes down. Before you leave on vacation, test your light timers for proper operation.

Learn more about lighting controls.

Motion Sensors – Motion sensor lighting is an inexpensive and effective way to add extra security to your home. This is especially important if you live in a dark or heavily foliaged area.

Motion sensor lights turn on whenever motion is detected. The light stays on for 1-30 seconds depending on the timer. If motion continues to be detected, the light will stay on. Otherwise, the light automatically shuts off.

  • Point motion detector lights toward doors (entrances), and sidewalks leading up to doors.
  • Consider aiming motion detector lights at backyards, decks, patios, cellars, and stairways.
  • Install motion detector lights around 6-10 feet above the ground.

Learn how to choose the right motion sensor.

Trim Plants – Even if you have adequate exterior lighting, home intruders can find a place to hide behind trees and bushes. Make sure you trim trees and shrubs around the perimeter of your home so they cannot be used as convenient hiding places.

Interior Lighting

Criminals are much more likely to break into a house with no lights on. But that doesn’t mean you should simply leave a couple of lights on before leaving on vacation. Besides being an energy drain, it’s also not that effective.

If a would-be intruder notices the same light stays on day and night, they will no nobody is at home. In this case, it would be better to just leave all the lights off.

Light Timers – If you are planning a trip out of town, make sure you have light timers for your interior lights as well as your exterior ones. Light timers are one of your best tools to prevent a home burglary.

There are also light timers and apps available that allow you to turn on and off lights from your smartphone. The unpredictable nature of these lights turning on and off are a great way to deter burglars.

What to Do Before Leaving on Vacation

  • Store ladders or lock them down.
  • Put tools and yard equipment away.
  • Store patio furniture and barbecues, or chain them together.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Keep garage and shed closed and locked
  • Stop the mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick them up.
  • Ask a neighbor to mow your lawn if away for an extended period of time.
  • Install and use deadbolt locks on all doors leading to the outside.
  • Use special locks and jams for sliding doors
  • Never leave spare keys outside in “secret” spots.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch Group.
  • Consider installing an alarm system
  • If you don’t have an alarm system, consider placing security system signs and stickers around the home.

Learn more about security lighting.

Landscape lighting and light timers are a great addition to any home. From permanent landscape and security lighting to Christmas and Event lighting, we can help you from design to execution, including control systems, wiring, and installation.


If you live in the Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, or San Antonio metro areas, contact the professional lighting architects at The Perfect Light for a free landscape lighting consultation.

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