We’ve all long been aware that during the warmer summer months, crime rates seem to soar. Is it just our imaginations, or do violent and property crimes really escalate during summer? Unfortunately, increased crime as the temperatures heat up is a fact. According to a Department of Justice report, burglaries are 10.5% more common during the summer than in winter months.
Law enforcement professionals strongly believe that as temperatures rise, so do the number of violent crimes. In fact, according to a June 2015 report at the Chicago Tribune, murders were already up by 20% in New York over the same period in 2014, and shootings up 10% over that same time.
Why the increase in violent and property crimes during the summer season?
Some experts believe that when the weather warms up, more people are out and about. This leads to neighbors interacting more with one another, and even the opportunity for strangers to become acquainted. In some areas people leave their windows open to let fresh air circulate. People are away on vacation, or even just a day at the pool or beach. Because people are out enjoying the summer, criminals have more opportunities to commit property crimes.
Others believe that once kids are out of school and college for the summer, crime rates begin to spike. In certain areas, a lack of activities that make it possible for teens to structure their time may result in those teens becoming involved in gangs or other violence.
Many have theorized that aggressive behavior often results when temperatures become uncomfortably warm. Those who commit crimes often channel their aggressive behavior into aggressive crimes as a result. In New York, experts say crime rates are highest in July, followed closely by June.
In 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that according to associate professor of criminology Jermone McKean at Ball State University in Indiana, there was a “definite correlation” between an increase in crime and rise in temperatures. The newest reports suggest that not only do burglaries rise in hot summer months, but aggravated assault and rape as well. However, some suggest that once temperatures rise to an uncomfortable level, assault and other crime rates drop.
Data from the FBI UCR for 2010-2012 showed that crime rates rose substantially in states with mild or cold climates during the months of July and August than in states with warmer climates. In warmer states, robbery, rape, and murder crimes increased by about 5.7%, while in mild and colder climates the increase was 9% and 13.4% respectively. This would indicate that although crime rates increase during summer months, it appears criminals prefer milder climates over regions where temperatures are hotter.
Regardless of the reason(s), crime rates across the country definitely rise during summer months. It could be that more people are out and about, giving rise to opportunities for criminals, the fact that teens and college students are out for summer vacation and have idle hands, aggressive behavior brought on by heat, or a combination of all of the above.
Whatever the reason, areas that are considered high crime should consider increased focus and efforts by law enforcement. The general population should be highly aware of your surroundings, avoid leaving valuables outdoors, and be particularly alert when on vacation. Taking steps to help deter crime could eventually bring the numbers down during the summer season.