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Absence of street lighting may prevent vehicle crime, but spatial and temporal displacement remains a concern

Objectives This paper estimates the effect of changes in street lighting at night on levels of crime at street-level. Analyses investigate spatial and temporal displacement of crime into adjacent streets. Methods Offense data (burglaries, robberies, theft of and theft from vehicles, and violent crime) were obtained from Thames Valley Police, UK. Street lighting data (switching lights off at midnight, dimming, and white light) were obtained from local authorities. Monthly counts of crime at street-level were analyzed using a conditional fixed-effects Poisson regression model, adjusting for seasonal and temporal variation. Two sets of models analyzed: (1) changes in night-time crimes adjusting for changes in day-time crimes and (2) changes in crimes at all times of the day. Results Switching lights off at midnight was strongly associated with a reduction in night-time theft from vehicles relative to daytime (rate ratio RR 0.56; 0.41–0.78). Adjusted for changes in daytime, night-time theft from vehicles increased (RR 1.55; 1.14–2.11) in adjacent roads where street lighting remained unchanged. Conclusion Theft from vehicle offenses reduced in streets where street lighting was switched off at midnight but may have been displaced to better-lit adjacent streets. Relative to daytime, night-time theft from vehicle offenses reduced in streets with dimming while theft from vehicles at all times of the day increased, thus suggesting temporal displacement. These findings suggest that the absence of street lighting may prevent theft from vehicles, but there is a danger of offenses being temporally or spatially displaced.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
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