Lots of light at your business may make you think you are reducing crime, but that's not always the case. In fact, you might just be stealing dollars from your bottom line and wasting energy without any real benefit. Sure, you can go with LED Lighting, but it still uses energy, so why waste it? Okay so, now that I have your attention, let's talk.
Not long ago, I wrote an interesting piece on the importance for lighting at Convenience Stores, Gas Stations, Car Washes, and other types of business to assist in reducing crime. The essence of that article was to get business owners to consider the value of lighting and also consider the costs. But, as I began to get feedback from the industry and other sources, I learned that business security is not guaranteed to reduce crime, in fact, in some studies, actual case studies crime has not been reduced much at all.
In fact, I was alerted to an interesting research paper from the "Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on the effect in Chicago Alleys when lighting levels were substantially increased." That is to say "for many types of crime, the increase in lighting levels resulted in higher crime levels - not lower rates." Indeed, Leo Smith (a board member) of IDA or International Dark-Sky Association informed me that;
"Light and crime may not be as related as some might think. Yet there's an inherent fear of darkness in many people."
Thus, in the name of safety and in the name of energy conservation businesses need to use the correct levels of lighting to achieve both goals. Too much light also causes light pollution which is a huge problem for many reasons. Leo Smith also suggests that for instance;
"A gas pump island at a convenience store needs no more than 5 footcandles of horizontal illumination on the ground. In perspective, 5 footcandles provides 500 times more light than is provided by a full moon on a clear night - plenty of light to see well for the immediate surrounds. Yet some stores will try lighting to 50 footcandles - a total waste of energy and a major problem in terms of light pollution."
Indeed, mega-thanks to Leo Smith and the entire team at IDA for this valuable information and this research paper. It's great to see empirical data and evidence which business security professionals and small business owners can use to save money and reduce crime. In fact, I've often wondered about that myself, having owned many businesses, and been mostly car wash business.