Do Crimes Happen More Often in the Summer?

Do Crimes Happen More Often in the Summer?

There are many assumptions, myths, and made-up rules surrounding crime and one of the most popular is the idea that violent crime increases when the weather gets hotter. So, does crime get worse in the summer? The short answer is yes, but the concept is far more complicated. Read our blog to find out more.

THE IDEA

Those working in the justice system have noticed a pattern: crime, particularly violent crime, increased along with the temperature. Many began to equate warm weather with spikes in crime, but it was not until the 21st century that researchers began to evaluate this pattern for science.

As violent crimes rose publicly with the rise in serial killings in the 1970s and 80s, police noticed that many killings occurred in the warmer months and the killers were often located in warmer climates. It makes sense that when people are out enjoying nice weather, there would be more opportunities to commit a crime. This begs the question, does violent crime increase only in the summer or when the weather is warmer?

WEATHER

In 2019 a study from the University of Southern California found a relationship between temperature and crime in Los Angeles. Researchers discovered that violent crime rates rose on average about 5.7% on days when the temperature was at or above 85 degrees. Additional studies found that warmer weather increases aggression and behaviors in people.

The idea that warm weather is a catalyst is called the heat hypothesis and asserts that people become aggressive in hot temperatures, and it is these tendencies that become violent instead of there being an ‘on’ switch for violence when the seasons change.

TIMES ARE CHANGING

The heat hypothesis has merit, but it is important to note that temperature may only be one of many factors that impact crime rates. In general, crime is the result of one twofold issue: poverty. Low-income neighborhoods are more likely to have higher crime rates than the middle class or wealthy communities and the issues go back centuries.

Since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, there have been class divides that drew lines in the sand for residents. Richer people lived in groups while poor and working-class people lived either in the dusty cities or in tight-knit communities on the outskirts of the elite. Because of this, wealthy communities were able to afford services and protection that the others could not.

Once slaves were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation and informally freed again with the advent of the civil rights movement, a new group was factored into wealth inequality and housing disparity. Because many Black and African American people were starting with nothing, they could not afford to purchase houses in wealthy neighborhoods. Instead, they had to settle for low-rent apartments and often run-down neighborhoods without the advantages and safety nets that wealth and power provide.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Wealth disparity is a foundational divide that bleeds into everything from the quality of infrastructure to education. Poorer neighborhoods often have lower quality schools which means students who cannot afford private school are stuck with sub-par education that does not put them at the same level as their peers. Poor education also means that children growing up in these areas are not able to compete in the job market and may not be able to get higher education.

High unemployment rates leave people in a state of desperation that is difficult and sometimes impossible to rectify. Survival is an instinct that humans cannot avoid and for families with children, survival can mean taking drastic measures.

ENVIRONMENT

It is also important to note that low-income communities are often located in geographic areas plagued by environmental hazards. The upper classes live in neighborhoods far away from chemical plants, pollution, and infertile soil. Environmental hazards like pollution, lead, and mold impact health in wellness in low-income areas.

Because the environment is unsafe, there are often few if any safe spaces for children to play and spend time outside. Parkes and fields are costly to input and maintain and many communities simply do not have the funds to support them.

All of these factors increase the risk of violence and the probability of exposure to violence at an early age. Children are susceptible to witnessing gruesome violence and traumatic events because there are few if any safe spaces or safety measures to protect them.

A NUMBERS GAME

These neighborhoods are plagued by crime but there is another side to this: police patrolling. Low-income areas are more heavily patrolled which means more crime is reported and recorded. This is not to say that without a police presence these areas would be crime-free but more incident reports do equal higher crime rates. These rates inflate the public’s perception of the danger of living in these areas and they can sometimes become a haven for criminals from other places.

Famously, Richard Ramirez stayed at the Cecil Hotel located on Skid Row – the most violent four square miles in the entirety of Los Angeles. Other criminals flocked to the Cecil to stay low and in some cases pick off the homeless population or young visitors who did not know better.

Crime in these areas has increased exponentially over the past two decades and there are no signs of it stopping. Warm weather aside, crime across the country is on the rise with researchers seeing homicides linked to firearms reach the highest point in 26 years.

TAKEAWAY

So, does violent crime increase in the summer? Considering that summer is the warmest season, yes there is a loose correlation between summer and crime since hot temperatures often equal high crime rates. However, crime rates are endlessly complex, and some researchers dedicate themselves to studying patterns that could help law enforcement prevent or at least prepare for spikes.

Increased aggression also impacts crime reporting. People are more likely to wrongly accuse someone during a crime spike than at any other time. Contact the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A.

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