Car crashes at Kenan Fountain weren’t the only problems the City of Wilmington wanted to shine light on Wednesday. In an effort to reduce property crimes and nighttime violence, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous and partners that evening told the City Council that residents and business owners should flip on their properties’ exterior lights through the holidays.
The public service announcement was timed with the start of the local “Light It Up” campaign that will run through Jan. 1. And since the clocks rolled back last weekend, nights are falling earlier.
“We know that lighting helps reduce crime,” Evangelous said, adding that when the bulbs blink on at night, persons up to no good scramble like “cockroaches.”
Information compiled by the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University notes that increased lighting around properties at night generally allows for fewer dark hiding places and can discourage potential prowlers. But use good judgment; bright lights in the wrong places can create glare or wide shadows and even aid burglars in their crimes.
“Light up parking lots and entrances/windows that can be seen by others,” the school says. “Do not light up back doors that cannot be seen by others because this could attract criminals.”
Data compiled by the FBI show property crime is by far the most documented offense in North Carolina cities, including Wilmington. That accounts for burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.
“I call upon everyone to help by turning on one exterior light at your home and business to prevent crime in our community,” Mayor Bill Saffo read from a proclamation approved at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.
The proclamation for “Light It Up” noted that while “crime prevention initiatives are not the sole responsibility of law enforcement, communities must work together with law enforcement to promote collaborative efforts that make neighborhoods safer for all people and develop positive opportunities for young people to thrive.”
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