June 16, 1995

Deter Home Burglaries With Proper Lighting

Nick Harder Orange County Register
 

In the next three months, more Americans are expected to travel on their vacations than they have for many years. Travel-industry employees aren’t the only people happy with this prospect. The folks who burglarize homes must be positively joyful.

That’s because so many people leave their homes so vulnerable that they might as well draw a target on the front doors or put up a sign: Welcome burglars.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

One aspect of home burglary prevention is lighting. You know the drill. Turn on lights to make it look like someone is at home. But here are a few suggestions to take it even further.

For most homeowners, lighting a home for burglary prevention typically means buying a timer you plug into the wall socket and plugging a lamp into it. The timer turns on the light for a few hours each evening, and that’s that.

Well, that can work and it’s better than nothing, but consider a couple of alternatives. Instead of having just one light turn on and off, how about two lights, or even three? If you have a two-floor home, have lights on both levels connected to timers.

Also, schedule the lights to turn on and off logically. Most people have lights on during the evening in parts of the house where they spend the most time. For many homeowners that would be the family room, kitchen or living room.

But when people go to bed, they turn off those lights and turn on lights in the bedroom area. Why not schedule your timers to reflect your usual schedule in this way?

A lot of homeowners get stopped in this process by not having a plug-in lamp that they can connect to a conventional timer plugged into a wall socket. If you haven’t seen or even heard of timers that replace wall switches, ask your local hardware store or home center sales person about them.

This is not a plug-in device, but don’t get scared that you have to remove your existing wall switch and connect a few wires. Even if you know nothing about electrical procedures, this is a simple job that anyone can do by following the few directions that come with the devices.

Several years ago, I bought an Intermatic wall-switch timer and connected it to my outside lights. It has helped, but it’s a bit of a hassle to reprogram it every few months as the amount of daylight lengthens or shortens.

Intermatic now has a self-learning timer so you don’t have to keep changing the program as the amount of sunlight changes through the year. It also has the ability to switch your lights on and off at random times so no one watching from the outside can detect a pattern. It sells for $24.95, and it’s an investment I intend to make.

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