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Students Light Up Off-Campus at Lehigh for the third year

Published On: Apr 11 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 11 2013 11:07:57 PM EDT

More lights, safer streets, and less crime.


More lights, safer streets, and less crime.

It's the goal of some Lehigh University students and business owners on Bethlehem's southside.

Thursday night, they used a light bulb to get their message across.

The hope is to have each person turn on their front porch light.

Police, business owners and students say they feel a lot safer since the Light Up Off Campus at Lehigh event started.

Some students at Lehigh University are hoping to reduce crime and help provide a safer environment for students living off campus.

Three years ago students say they weren't feeling safe.

"There had been some burglaries in the neighborhood and we were trying to think of ways students could get involved," said Louis Intile, property owner and managing partner at Fifth Street Capital Partners.

"They were blaming Bethlehem, they were blaming the cops but really we can do it ourselves," added Colin Miksiewicz, a Lehigh University student senate member.

The answer to the problem has been the Light Up events. Groups of students talk to homeowners or renters and ask them to leave their front porch light on.

Bethlehem police say in three years they've seen a change around the southside campus.

"It's interesting because how the students rotate through," said Bethlehem Police Chief Jason Schiffer. "You don't have that continuity from year after year, but those of us that have worked in this community for 15, 20 years know that south Bethlehem is far safer now than it has ever been."

"We have noticed that the students are leaving them on," added Intile. "We've had comments from both Bethlehem police and Lehigh police, that the police officers themselves feel safer walking down the street."

The process is really simple. The energy efficient lights are donated by local businesses and are free to the homeowner. Students install the light, give them a sicker for the light switch and this year give a magnet with numbers to the local police departments. The wish is for light around the campus of Lehigh and it's making streets a little safer for everyone.

"I pose the question to anybody, If you were to walk down a dark street or a well light street, where would you feel safest," asked Intile.

The event has been so successful that organizers are thinking about having a Light Up event in the spring and fall.