Why Finding A Loose Porch Light Bulb Is A Dangerous Red Flag

Burglaries happen all the time. In fact, according to the United States FBI's Crime Clock, there was a burglary once every 25.7 seconds in 2018. Having outdoor lights around your home may deter some burglars, but what deters them more is knowing that someone's inside the home. Most invaders prefer to get in and out quickly, so an empty home provides the best chance of escape. 

These invaders often set up traps or tests, including with your porch lights. Light bulbs burn out from time to time, but they don't unscrew themselves. There are a few reasons thieves may mess with your lights, and it's not just to mess with your head. More specifically, criminals use indicators like porch lights to determine when residents are home and how well they pay attention to their surroundings. So, if you notice a loose, flickering, or dead light bulb on your porch, replace it as soon as possible and keep your guard up, especially if you know that the bulb is relatively new. Tightening or replacing your lightbulb quickly could be key to indicating your presence and protecting your home from unwelcome invaders and thieves, as well as generally being an inexpensive tip to help protect your home from intruders

A loose bulb leaves you vulnerable

Why would someone come onto your property just to loosen your light bulbs? First, burglars and other criminals may use a dark or flickering bulb to mark your house as a potential target. If your house is the only one in the neighborhood with a dead bulb, they'll be able to easily stake out your home or cue in their mates to your location. Before attempting the break-in, they may watch your house to see how many people live there, how tough you look, or which hours you're at home every day. Most burglars prefer to break in when nobody is home, and a dead lightbulb that's left unfixed for days could be a hint that you're away, whether on vacation, a work trip, or any other form of absence. 

According to a survey by KGW8 News, most burglars choose to strike "in early morning or afternoon" when most people are busy at work and the house is empty. However, if they decide to strike at night, a dead porch bulb could be an attractive feature. Besides marking your home, a loose bulb makes the actual break-in process easier by obscuring the burglars in darkness. If your lights are motion-activated, burglars may loosen them while you're gone during the day to avoid setting them off later at night. 

Simple solutions could protect your home

One of the easiest fixes for repeatedly loosened bulbs is to install a porch light fixture that's difficult to unscrew. Don't leave your porch light on all day and night, especially while you're out of town. This is one of the best subtle ways burglars can tell no one's home. Instead, ask a housesitter to turn different lights on inside and outside while you're traveling, making it seem as if someone is home every night. You can also invest in a smartphone-compatible light, timed switch, or motion-activated lights. Leaving a noisy TV on can also be a very successful deterrent against burglars. A loud radio would work, too, though fewer people seem to have radios compared to TVs these days.

Messing with exterior light bulbs is risky for burglars, so it's relatively uncommon, but there are some other methods criminals might use to mark your home. Watch out for strange markings on the sidewalk, driveway, or mailbox posts. Some burglars will use special codes written in sidewalk chalk to indicate the vulnerability of a home. If your lightbulbs keep coming loose, consider installing security cameras, talk to your neighbors, and keep an eye on local crime reports. If you're feeling suspicious, your neighbors may have noticed something strange, too. Together, you can keep your neighborhood safer.