General Question

kevbo's avatar

If a neighbor unscrews your porch light (because it's too bright inside their house, is it trespassing or/and anything else?

Asked by kevbo (25644points) August 20th, 2015 from iPhone

What’s the legal infraction?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

61 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, it is trespassing. And it might be considered mischief or vandalism.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes it is trespassing. Can you get a picture while they are in the act? Call the police.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, it is trespassing and it is also passive aggressive. However, that said, if they have talked to you about it and you have refused to try and cooperate and put in a lower watt bulb or turn it off out of consideration you are not being very considerate either.

DoNotKnow's avatar

@Coloma: “However, that said, if they have talked to you about it and you have refused to try and cooperate and put in a lower watt bulb or turn it off out of consideration you are not being very considerate either.”

This. Light pollution can be a big problem in some places. The effect this can have on quality of life to nearby neighbors can be huge.

Pachy's avatar

Yes, if they didn’t speak with you beforehand and get your permission. Not sure what you can do about it, though, without possibly turning it into a Hatfield-McCoy kind of feud.

talljasperman's avatar

The light is trespassing in his property.

LuckyGuy's avatar

OK. They were wrong to do it. But try to imagine how bad it must have been – and for how long – for them to do such a thing. Now you know there is a problem. Fix it.
If you want the light on, please try to be neighborly and replace it with something that takes their comfort and sleep into consideration, too. Maybe you can get one with a reflector, or you can make a shield with a piece of aluminum foil or something else.
I don’t know the layout but I am certain you can easily do something that would keep the light on your property that would offer the safety you want and your neighbors the good night’s sleep they need.
Rather than starting a fight ,make the world a better place by fixing it right. Only you can do that.

jca's avatar

I work with someone who had this issue. Neighbor said my coworker’s floodlight was coming right into his bedroom window. It did become a Hatfield and McCoy type of feud, which was bad for both parties. @LuckyGuy makes a good point. It was wrong of your neighbor but has he spoken to you or your homeowner (not sure if you are homeowner or renter, @kevbo) about it in the past? Maybe it’s driving him nuts.

Luckily where I live, I don’t have this problem but if someone had a light on close by, it would disturb my sleep and brighten my room and probably annoy the crap out of me.

Is your porch light on all night long? Maybe try to shut it off or put a timer on it so it goes off at a certain time, like 10 pm or something. Does the neighbor have a baby or small child that may need darkness to sleep? Another option is putting in a motion detector, so when people come toward your porch, the light goes on for a set time (two minutes, five minutes) so that nobody is in the dark on your porch, but yet if you are not home and not getting home until late, the neighbor is not affected by your light.

keobooks's avatar

Be happy all they did was unscrew it. When I was a kid, we had a neighbor with a scorchingly bright floodlight. It was like daylight in my bedroom. My parents frequently asked them to get a dimmer light. They refused. One day, the neighbor was pounding on our door, threatening to call the cops on my dad because someone took a gun to the light and put it out. We didn’t even own a gun. A few days later, a police officer came to the door and talked to my parents briefly. A few days after that, it was discovered that the neighbor on the other side of the bright light house shot out the floodlight. He was fined, but threatened to do it again anyway.

Bill1939's avatar

Your neighbor is trespassing. They should have told you about the problem, if they didn’t. As others have suggested, you can cooperate with your neighbor by either shielding the light so it only covers the porch and/or use a motion detecting light fixture to turn the light on.

kevbo's avatar

I recently moved back after renting the house for nine years. The same neighbors have lived there the entire time. They did it to me once when I lived there and to my tenants and asked my tenants to turn the light off.

It’s just a standard, one-bulb light, and it’s a neighborhood where all the (town)houses are built close to each other. There’s nothing extra-ordinary about my light.

Personally, I’m a little bit floored that the dad thinks this is okay. I wouldn’t in a million years think of doing that to someone. The first time he did it, I thought the bulb had burned out and replaced it, but surely it was fine. My solution would be to buy light-blocking curtains, especially after living there for 13 years.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: The dad has not had a recent conversation with you about the light?

kevbo's avatar

No, but he told me after the fact the very first time that he had unscrewed it because “it’s really bright.” Back then I wasn’t as assertive a person, so I just let it slide, but even then I was thinking “yeah and that’s what curtains are for.”

DoNotKnow's avatar

@kevbo – It doesn’t matter if it’s a standard bulb and you don’t think it should bother people. This is a serious issue. It can cause people to have to purchase special blinds, be unable to open their windows at night to get fresh air, or have to switch to central air so they can keep their light-blocking blinds completely closed. It affects people’s sleep, livelihood, their kids’ sleep and their overall quality of life.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: Try a motion detector. Also, have a discussion with the neighbor so he knows what’s going on and it doesn’t cause bad feelings. I know you are annoyed and he’s probably annoyed too. A conversation may “mend the fence” so to speak.

kevbo's avatar

@DoNotKnow, I’m sympathetic to that, but the entire neighborhood is built with the same exact configuration. Everyone’s porch light is in the same place relative to every neighbor’s house.

Also, the houses are designed with super effecient HVAC that includes a mechanism to circulate fresh air (in addition to heated or refrigerated air) in the house via the HVAC system. Nobody really opens their windows unless they just prefer it that way.

DoNotKnow's avatar

^ If it were not causing some serious issues for your neighbors, do you think they would do it?

Let’s try it this way: why do you have lights on outside your house at night?

jca's avatar

@kevbo: What kinds of lights do other neighbors have? Do they keep their lights on all the time or mostly dark?

kevbo's avatar

This is all tract housing, so unless someone modified their porch light, everyone has the same setup. I suspect that some leave their lights on and some don’t. @DoNotKnow, 90% of the time I don’t even use mine. Occasionally I do and even more occasionally I leave it on overnight.

If he’s going to unscrew it, then really he should screw it back in first thing in the morning. Why don’t I get that courtesy of we’re so worried about them?

DoNotKnow's avatar

@kevbo: “Why don’t I get that courtesy of we’re so worried about them?”

Because you’re the aggressor here. It’s a huge problem, and I have (and everyone I have known) lived through this. Eliminating your light (or just setting it to temporary go on/off based on movement when someone is on the porch) would have no negative effects on your life. But doing so would greatly improve the lives of the people around you. I’m just advocating for compassion. It’s a moral issue.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: Have a conversation with the neighbor. I know you are mad (or at least I feel like you are mad) but see where he’s at and maybe you can come to a conclusion that’s suitable for you both. I am guessing he felt like he was at his wit’s end and hopefully there’s a good reason why (kid can’t sleep, etc.). If your whole neighborhood is relatively dark as far as porch lights go and you left yours on all night, maybe that’s what’s bothering him.

I have deck lights and flood lights and I only leave them on if I’m expecting someone (which is almost never), and as soon as I can turn them off, I turn them off. They come into the kitchen and it’s annoying to me to have my own lights on! :)

kevbo's avatar

@DoNotKnow, you’re advocating compassion and calling me the aggressor? I didn’t force these people to buy a home in a zero-lot-line neighborhood, and I don’t agree that bad design on the part of the builder makes me the bad guy for simply using what I purchased in a normal manner.

@jca, he was concerned about his kid, but to deal with it in this way instead of buying curtains is baffling to me.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: I agree but it seems he was probably frustrated When it comes to kids and especially when it comes to the kid’s sleep, it makes things extra rough sometimes.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: As far as him buying curtains, maybe he felt like if the solution was a simpler one (you shutting light off) that would be a better way to go. Maybe he has no money for curtains. I’m not sure. Just have a discussion with him and keep it level headed.

DoNotKnow's avatar

Yes. @kevbo, it’s common for people to feel that whatever they do at their own house is their own business and doesn’t affect other people. And if it does affect other people, well then they should just get over it. When it comes to noise pollution (music), air pollution (smoke), and light pollution (exterior lighting), you are sending things outside of your property and into other people’s houses.

I urge you to consider the feelings of anger you have that someone came up on your property and unscrewed you lightbulb. You must feel violated in some sense, right? Now, imagine that you’re that guy, and it isn’t just someone briefly coming up onto the porch – it’s a neighbor who is sending his light into your house – into your bedroom, and into your kids’ bedroom, affecting their sleep. Unscrewing a lightbulb might be the last thing that comes to your mind.

It appears that the principle is what is bothering you here. But if you can step back and imagine what it would feel like for someone to be so insensitive as to feel it’s so important (for some bizarre reason) to throw light into your house, and he doesn’t care at all.

If you decide to contemplate this in any way, it might help to think about what it would be like if someone was tossing rocks into your back yard. When you complained, they respond, “You have a gazebo with a roof in your yard. Why don’t you just sit under that while in your back yard? And besides, I’m only throwing small pebbles.”

It might be time for them to consider putting the rocks down.

kevbo's avatar

@DoNotKnow, so then would you go into your neighbor’s backyard and remove all their rocks?

My parents have neighbors with a trashy looking fence. They dealt with it by raising their wall so they wouldn’t have to look at it.

Further, I would recognize that it’s not my neighbor’s fault that the design of the houses are such that this is how things are, and I would deal with the problem as best I could within my house. Our shared yard also has a streetlight, which I’m sure casts light into his kids bedrooms. I don’t see that light getting shut off, and again, I didn’t force them to buy a house in that location.

Pandora's avatar

Yes it is trespassing. And yes, your neighbor did it in a rude way. But I remember living in a place like that where I had to buy dark curtains and it sucked, because I had two windows facing that way and during the day time my room was dark. Even drawing back the curtains the room was still dim. But at night it was a coming to Jesus moment unless I closed my curtains and drew my blinds.

Your other neighbors may not mind because they don’t mind having dark curtains and living in the dark. But I for one, love having plenty of light during the day so I have light curtains and pitch black at night. I get very irritated living in a dark environment during the day and having to live off of lamp lights when the sun would light my home sufficiently during the day.

Can you replace the light with some sort of shield lighting that directs the light downward, or maybe at least change it to a yellow light or get the light with a sensor, so it only comes on for a minute if an animal passes by, but long enough for you to put your key in the door when you come home?

DoNotKnow's avatar

@kevbo – I think you missed the point of the rock analogy. If someone was hurling rocks into your back yard, you would have to stop using your back yard for fear of getting hit in the head. You wouldn’t send your kids out there, and you’d be stuck sitting under your gazebo. What I’m saying is that you would have your life altered because you neighbor decided it was fine to just start throwing rocks over his fence.

You are throwing the rocks here. You are throwing your light into your neighbor’s life, and you don’t seem to care.

I don’t want to make this more complicated than it is. Just try to realize that you could be really hurting people.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: Your neighbor probably couldn’t put up a wall even if he wanted to, because if it’s an association and a complex, there are probably rules about fences and walls and all other kinds of things (need to keep lawn mowed, etc.).

jca's avatar

@kevbo: Repeatedly I mentioned motion sensor, and others did too. Have you considered that? Please don’t get stuck on being hard headed about it, because there will be no winners if you and the neighbor start the Hatfield-McCoy Feud.

kevbo's avatar

He can put up a wall, but I’m not saying he should. I’m saying he should get curtains.

In fact, they already have an outdoor blind on their porch because of the afternoon sun. I guess the sun is the aggressor too.

@DoNotKnow, I’m not missing the point. If you’re going to make an analogy, it should carry its weight through the argument.

jca's avatar

I’ll tell you what happened with my coworker. It ended up where the cops came repeatedly to the houses for various things (neighbor vs. neighbor), went before a judge and the judge told my coworker to remove his light. Neighbor also did some vengeful thing to my coworker where coworker got in trouble with his own employer. I’m telling you, if the solution is simple (let me repeat: MOTION SENSOR), you should consider that. Things get out of hand, they get out of your hands and then NOBODY WINS.

DoNotKnow's avatar

@kevbo: “I’m saying he should get curtains.”

Nice. Everyone has already explained why that’s an immoral position to hold, and now you’re stating it again. As long as you’re ok being the bad guy here, why not just say so?

@kevbo: “I guess the sun is the aggressor too.”

:) ok, now you’re just trolling.

In all seriousness, just go an sit on it. If you have a meditation practice, go explore this. If there is an ethical component to your practice, explore this area. If you still find that you’d prefer to be the source of suffering, own it. Let us know how your neighborhood feud goes, and stay safe.

kevbo's avatar

@DoNotKnow, seriously GFY for calling me a troll. I’ve been a contributing member of this site for almost as long as it’s been active.

I’m sorry your first inclination is to blame individuals for problems that are created by a systemic limitation of resources.

@jca, I acknowledge that a motion detector could be a solution. I have a mile-long list of repairs and rehab I need to do, and that is at the bottom of the list.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@kevbo It might be very easy to cut a piece of aluminum that would block the light.

You mentioned you leave the light on all night. Not only are you bothering your neighbor but you are wasting electricity and adding extra CO2 to the planet as well. ;-)

How would you feel if your neighbor played his music all night? He can keep the volume low – just low enough to cause you to run the A/C all the time to drown it out.
That is nose pollution We are discussing light pollution.

For the record I agree with most of what @DoNotKnow has stated. (Not the troll part) Your light is bothering your neighbor,. so much so your neighbor took action. That should tell you something. Think about it.

kevbo's avatar

@Pandora, like you, I really like natural light and sometimes we find ourselves in living spaces that aren’t a perfect fit. I’ve lived in those kinds of places, and I’ve coped by studiously avoiding them in the first place or making do until I could move. Like you said, others are not so sensitive, so it’s good that everyone has a choice of where to live.

DoNotKnow's avatar

Just want to duck in here to make sure people are aware that I didn’t call @kevbo a troll. Go read it.

kevbo's avatar

@LuckyGuy, I would bet $100 that the energy footprint of my home is 50% more efficient than yours because it is built to high standards. I can literally heat my home by turning the lights on because it is so well insulated. I’m not going to worry about a light bulb because I forgot about it one or three nights out of the year.

I have a common wall with my other neighbor, and they seem to slam their doors late into the evening every night and also have dogs that bark late at night. I deal with it by recognizing that where I live isn’t a pristine island of ideal home design and by being grateful that I have a decent house that I own.

I’ll consider your suggestion re the aluminum. Thanks!

jca's avatar

@kevbo: I think a motion sensor is a pretty cheap thing. If it were my house and the issue with the neighbor rose to this level, I think the motion sensor purchase and installation would rise pretty far up my list of priorities, pretty quickly.

I can also guarantee you that @LuckyGuy‘s house is as energy efficient as possible, because of what he does for a living and also, he’s pretty practical and probably (if I were to guess), frugal.

kevbo's avatar

I’m sure his is efficient in many ways. I just know that mine was built to be crazy efficient.

I am also not of an engineering temperament, so applying mental energy to worrying about small inefficiencies isn’t fulfilling to me. If I was forced to obsess about maximizing light bulb efficiencies, I’d be a depressed individual, but I understand how that disposition is fulfilling for others.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: All I’m saying and all others on here (the majority on this thread) are saying is take a look at the bigger picture and try to see things from the neighbor’s point of view. Especially if it’s concerning his child’s sleep, one or two nights of a crying kid who can’t sleep because of light pollution would be upsetting to any parent.

You also mentioned barking dogs. That’s another thing that can piss off neighbors and warrant a call to the police. Yes, none of us live on a “pristine island” as you put it, unless we live in the middle of a forest (and then we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and the critters surrounding us) but we all try, as members of a society, to be considerate of our neighbors if there are things that are not unreasonable.

All we are saying is try to see the other side of the coin.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@kevbo I’ll let the efficiency comment slide. If you recall I am a wood burner. And I burn the trees that I planted!!! I don’t have A/C. Plus, I have 18 inches of insulation in my attic…. don’t get me started. (I love this subject.)

I know the energy wasted in a bulb is peanuts. That is why I included the wink. (Hopefully you do have an LED or CFL outdoors.) My comment was to help push you over the edge into action, by not just helping your neighbor, whom you might consider obnoxious, but also you are helping the planet and reducing sea level rise and drowning Bangladeshis, and….
Do it for the Children!

And don’t forget to spay and neuter your animals.

kevbo's avatar

I do see the other side of the coin. He has a problem that he needs to fix somehow, and he is concerned about his child’s welfare. That is why he bought a decent house in a decent neighborhood and spent a wad of money, I’m sure, on a Ford Expedition that barely fit in his garage when his kids were really young, because “he needed something bigger.” So yeah, I get that he’s concerned for his family’s welfare.

And he bought a house in a tract neighborhood where everyone’s homes are close to each other. In fact, our living room windows face each other and the day that I looked over and saw that his wife could look full on into my living room before I had the opportunity to buy shades, I adhered white garbage bags to my windows to block the view. Later, they spent considerable money to raise our common wall, although they can still see into my yard because their house sits above mine.

Everyone’s house is built to code, and I haven’t made modifications to add more light to the outside of my home. I’m just using what came with the house and in a reasonable manner. I think I’m allowed to do that.

Again, they purchased an outdoor blind to shade the front porch (more just a walk up).

So they’ve spent considerable time and effort modifying their house and making purchases to outfit their home to overcome design deficiencies. This situation with my porch light shouldn’t be much different, and it certainly shouldn’t be resolved by unscrewing my bulb as if it’s their prerogative to do so.

I guess my bottom line is that leaving my light on the rare occasion that I do is that it’s not an unreasonable thing for me to do. What if I have severe anxiety because my house was broken into in the past, and I need the light on to feel safe? I’m not saying this is the case, but who’s being unreasonable then?

Like I said, my common wall neighbors are noisy. If it’s such a problem I should probably find another living situation. But I’m not going to go over there and tell them to be quiet, and I’m not going to bang on my wall. They’re not living unusually, and they should feel free to live how they want. I shouldn’t have to second guess when I get to use my porch light because my neighbor won’t buy light-blocking curtains but would buy a house in a relatively tightly-packed neighborhood.

That’s the bigger picture.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@kevbo Thank you for the additional information in your latest post. It is helpful in understanding your viewpoint.

As a member who has been following this thread since it was started, here is the question I have: Are you seeking a solution or for other members to agree with your stance?

In either case, why not just initiate a rational conversation with the neighbor that is entered with an open mind and without pointing fingers? Surely the two of you can come up with a resolution that resolves the issue.

kevbo's avatar

My original question is “what is it called when this happens,” because I would like to talk to my neighbor and in the process of doing so would like to have my facts straight if I need to explain to him that his behavior is unlawful. Really I find it unconscionable, and for all the armchair mediators on this thread, I’m kind of wondering now why there isn’t an sense of onus on him to come to me with solutions that are better than telling me to “turn my light off” or unscrewing it himself, especially when the lighting is OEM in a neighborhood where everyone has the exact same lighting. Everything else in this discussion is a sidetrack. No I don’t need people to agree with me, but today I guess I’m in a mood where I’m not going to sit here and be painted like I’m the asshole.

In digesting this thread and doing a little googling, I see now that there are some simple adjustments I can make. It still pisses me off, though, that I would have to spend time and effort to fix this.

This is an aside, but because I never bothered to install cable TV, the underground hose thing that runs from the central cable terminal to my exterior wall was never dressed. So when his kids were young, they stuffed rocks down the tube while they played in our common front yard. That rendered the tube unusable, so when my tenants had cable installed, the installer had to run orange cable across the top of my yard instead of being able to use the buried tube. That’s also a little annoying, but what can I do?

Anyway, my question was answered. I suppose the rest of this is recreational. Thanks.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: Please update us on the situation if you would like. Thank you and good luck with the whole thing.

chyna's avatar

I feel like the guy was out of line at the least. I leave my front and back porch lights on all night as does everyone in my area. It is supposed to be a deterent to home invaders.

jca's avatar

@chyna: I guess it depends on how nearby the neighbor’s house is, which, in this case, it seems like it’s probably pretty close. It is out of line but we were speculating (above) that he was at his wit’s end for some reason. A reason that could be ascertained if @kevbo has a conversation with him.

chyna's avatar

Agreed. But why does @kevbo have to go talk to neighbor? Why didn’t the neighbor come talk to kevbo? Neighbor is the one with the problem.
If I was the neighbor I would have gone over, explained the situation, asked kevbo to come over and see what he was dealing with. Instead the guy sneaks over and unscrews the light. Yet everyone is jumping on kevbo to fix his light when the real issue is the guy didn’t ask him to or discuss it. He took matters into his own hands.
Was kevbo supposed to read the guys mind and know the light bothered him?

kevbo's avatar

apologies for grammar gaffes.

jca's avatar

OK maybe both fighters can go to their corners with their legitimate issues (each has a legitimate issue, IMHO) and then let the chips fall where they may.

Like I said in my story above, coworker had an issue where it escalated to the level of the judge, judge makes a decision which only one person is happy about and then there’s revenge where the coworker’s job was brought in to the situation, and it goes on and on.

jca's avatar

If the neighbors in my example just had a conversation, maybe all that unpleasantness could have been avoided.

jca's avatar

Sorry to keep adding on, but it’s not a black and white issue. Each party (@kevbo and neighbor) is right and they’re both wrong. If not one gives an inch, two hard heads will never meet in the middle. Heads will keep butting and nobody will win.

kevbo's avatar

@jca, you don’t have the advantage of seeing the layout of my neighborhood or knowing that we have a neighborhood association, but if my neighbor is truly in the right, then there should be a systemic change throughout the neighborhood because this is a design problem, not an individual problem. The builder designed and built all of these houses with this same flaw. I have a hard time seeing how I might be wrong for occupying a home that was built to code and then using it in the manner intended. So far, I haven’t received a notice from the city or my homeowner’s association that I am the cause of a problem.

jca's avatar

@kevbo: I did say “it’s not a black and white issue. Each party is right and they’re both wrong. I’ve been trying to say all along that he should have a conversation. Maybe there’s a middle ground. Not everything is “you’re right, you’re wrong.” If it goes before a judge, it may be one is right and one is wrong, or it may not be. All I’m saying is have a conversation.

I know @kevbo has been on this site longer than I have (from the days when there was nobody on it, like it is now LOL). I am sure he’s a reasonable person. Sometimes we get caught up in the emotion of things and fail to see the bigger picture.

This is why people go to mediation when they’re not seeing eye to eye. Sometimes it takes someone else to point things out, things we may not see or may not want to see.

Coloma's avatar

Another option is, if you do not need some sort of major security lighting, replace the bulb with a 25 watt, colored, party bulb. I had a green one on my front deck a few years ago, and I live rural with no immediate neighbors or lights bothering me, but…my point is, the 25 watt bulb produced just enough light at the front door and bonus…it made all my plants look extra green. haha
A 25 watt soft yellow bulb would be adequate to offer some light but not invasive to others.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@kevbo, everyone on this thread agrees that the neighbor was in the wrong to trespass on your property and unscrew the light bulb. You can call us “armchair mediators”, but I’m willing to guess that many of us have been through a similar situation at some point in our lives. I have.

The point is that the neighbor has contacted you in the past. He also talked to your renters who passed the information on to you. Apparently, there was little discussion that involved attempting to reach an agreeable resolution for both parties.

If the neighborhood is part of an association, why not file a complaint with it? Let the association be the mediators if it is too uncomfortable for you to do in person.

Since the question was posted in the General section, if the advice posted thus far doesn’t fit the guidelines of the site, just flag your question and ask the moderators to do their magic.

jca's avatar

If you put it in the hands of the neighborhood association, you’re at the mercy of whatever they decide. If you take things into your own hands, and have a conversation with him yourself, maybe you can rectify the situation to your liking and in a way that satisfies him, too. You can also wait and see if it escalates to another level, like the judiciary level.

SmashTheState's avatar

It’s not as simple a question as most people here believe. In most jurisdiction, there is no expectation of privacy in a place which has no been closed off. For example, here in Kanada, precedent regarding shopping malls as private property has gone both ways from province to province and will probably eventually end up at the Supreme Court. Some provincial courts have ruled that shopping malls are quasi-public property – property which is privately owned, but carries the same legal responsibilities as public property. Your front step is designed to allow people to approach your house, and a reasonable person would infer that there was tacit invitation to do so. Judges love reasonableness tests like that.

While mischief would be the most likely criminal charge involved, in any, the definition of mischief here in Kanada requires the denial of benefit to someone else of their own property. In this case, the bulb wasn’t stolen or broken, just unscrewed, and you were able to easily rectify the situation. I know I wouldn’t have much difficulty arguing good faith in court if I was arrested in such a situation.

My suspicion is that police would probably regard this as a civil matter for the reasons I’ve given, assuming they have half a brain. If you happened to get a stupid meat-head cop, you might be able to squeeze an arrest out of him, but I sincerely doubt any prosecutor who cares about her or his conviction rate would accept the case.

There’s a much lower level of certainty and proof required in civil court, so suing your neighbour (civil trespass is different from criminal trespass) would be more feasible, but you’d have a hard time showing damages.

If it was me in this situation, I’d start out with a registered lawyer’s letter warning the neighbour not to trespass on your property or unscrew your light. This way you have proof in court later that the neighbour was not acting in good faith if he does it again. Of course, this is a double-edged blade because now your neighbour has proof that you are aware of the problem involving your light and could sue you.

It’s probably easier for all concerned just to get a dimmer bulb, a motion sensor trigger with a timer to turn your light on and off, and/or a bullseye shutter to direct the light in a specific desired direction.

TacomaYakko's avatar

I’m aware this is a necropost and may be resolved, but this isn’t an uncommon issue. So to anyone:

Yes, having someone waltz up to your porch to remove your light is a freaky bit of subterfuge, but pause for a moment to consider the desperate circumstances that drove them to think ninjutsu was their only course of action. Expecting everyone to seal themselves into an airless tomb festooned with lead-lined blackout curtains because you want your yard and the surrounding five kilometers to be brighter than the light of day is unreasonable. So please, make sure the light is only pointed at your own property, and not calling Rohan to the aid of Gondor from across the mountainside.

You could always try to make an issue of it by bringing the police into the matter, but you could potentially get tagged for light pollution, or simply foster years of unpleasant, neighborly hostility. Consider installing some combination of shield, timer, and motion sensor to rein in that arc reactor or yours.

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