Parking your car under a street light at night INCREASES chance of it being stolen rather than keeping it safe

FINDING a good parking spot can be a pain at the best of times – but it seems sticking it under a street light can prove quite a costly oversight.

Shining a spotlight on your vehicle vastly increases the chance of it being stolen rather than keeping it safe, new research suggests.

The bombshell study found that night-time thefts were almost halved when street lighting was turned off between midnight and 5am.

Researchers believe "opportunists" are less likely to target motors that are left in the dark, rather than those which have shone a light on its contents.

The analysis, which is published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, indicates that it makes it harder for thieves to see inside, assess the security of a vehicle, or remove exterior parts.

The team analysed the data of various crimes in Oxfordshire, Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham while changes were made to street lighting between April 2004 and September 2013.

They looked into the difference between lamposts being on all night and the gradual changes to their timing and luminosity over the nine-year period.

This included illumination being switched off between about midnight and about 5am, using white all-night illumination, and the dimming of lighting in the early hours.

It was found that all forms of crime analysed were more common when darkness fell – but the number of offences did decline over the years.

Thefts from vehicles fell by 44 per cent when street lighting was turned off between midnight and 5am.

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The study discovered the rate of total night-time crime dropped by around a quarter after taking into account the changes in daytime levels of crime.

But the research found that by pulling the plug on street lamps in certain areas, it didn't entirely stamp out car thieves.

The changes instead sparked a rise in vehicle thefts in adjacent streets which remained lit throughout the night.

However, the researchers believe switching the lights off in the dead of night may bring better benefits.

When crimes committed at any time of the day were included in the analysis, they found the changes to lighting were "associated with a reduction in overall crime, burglary, and violence on both the focal streets and those adjacent".

Dr Phil Edwards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the study, said it would help deter chancers who catch a glimpse of your car on a well-lit street.

He explained: "It is to do with opportunist theft.

"Without lighting it’s harder to see the laptop left overnight by accident on the passenger seat, for example."

But he also admitted the duration of time street lights remain on was quite the complex issue to navigate.

Edwards continued: "It is clear from other studies that people like street lighting, it makes them feel safer.

"But studies like ours are showing that actually the effects of street lighting aren’t that clear."

We previously revealed the UK's top ten postcodes most at risk of car thefts.

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Ford Fiestas, VW Golfs, Ford Focuses and Vauxhall Corsas were the most-popular cars to be nicked, the DVLA data said.

And we also told how high-tech key crooks managed to steal a car in Britain every SIX minutes in 2020.

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