I know we’re all excited that it's finally starting to feel like summer, but before you break out the beach bags and head to the shore, a new report suggests it may be smart to double check you locked the door and have someone to walk you home after dark. Unfortunately it’s not only lightning bugs and bare legs that like to make an appearance when the weather gets warm; criminals also like to feel the sun on their faces.
“Definite Correlation” Between Summer And Crime
According to a report from the Department of Justice, burglaries are 10.5 percent more common in the summer than the winter, The Week reported. This new data directly conflicts with J.Edgar Hoover, the man responsible for the FBI, who made the 1935 observation that “offenses of robbery and burglary are most frequently committed in the winter months,” The Wall Street Journal reported. The newest U.S. report covered seasonal patterns in crime trends and burglary wasn’t the only crime that peaked in the summer months. The report showed that rates of household property victimization, household larceny, and serious violent crimes such as rape and aggravated assault were also significantly higher in summer months. Jermone McKean, an associate professor of criminology at Ball State University in Indiana agreed with the statistics, suggesting back in 2010 that there was a “definite correlation” between an increase in temperature and an increase in crime, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Does Summer Make People Violent?
So what is it about summer that brings out the worst in people? During the summer people tend to keep their windows open more frequently and are more likely to leave their homes unoccupied as they enjoy an array of summer activities, The Week reported. This would give robbers a perfect opportunity to peruse your home, but it doesn’t explain why violent crimes increase in hotter months. According to The Wall Street Journal, a review of the homicides in New York City between 2002 and 2009, found July to be the most deadly month, closely followed by June. A study from The University of North Carolina suggests a rather strange theory that may just be true. According to the researchers, the heat of the summer “leads to great discomfort, which in turn gives rise to more aggressive behavior.” All this aggressive behavior can then possibly be channeled into aggressive crimes.
James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University has a more simple explanation for the increase of crime in the dog-days of summer. "It's not necessarily that people are short-tempered when it gets hot out, it's that there are more people out and about, which means more potential victims," he said. This is slightly more settling perhaps, suggesting that even criminals are just your average opportunists, not mindless creatures driven to violence at the first sign of physical discomfort.
But Not Too Hot…
When the temperature begins to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it seems that even the world’s most violent criminals think it’s best to call it a day. “At some point when the heat becomes oppressive, crime no longer increases and starts to decline because people no longer fight the heat and they go inside," explained Fox to The Wall Street Journal. Maybe they decided they didn’t want to miss out on an ideal beach day and traded in their firearms for flip-flops. Regardless, although it’s important to secure your home and your safety during the summer, it shouldn’t keep you locked away from all the season’s fun. After all, summer does only come once a year.