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Rising Temps & Rising Crime

Written By Kathryn Marsh, Prosecutor’s POV

Summertime is here, and many of us look forward to longer days, time with friends and
vacations. However, as the temperatures rise over the summer months so do the crime
rates.

A 2014 report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) found sexual assaults, intimate partner
violence, homicides and other violent crimes, generally occur at higher rates during the
summer months when compared to other seasons. While The DOJ report found that many
crimes only increased by a few percentage points, intimate partner violence/domestic
violence increased by nearly 12% during the summer when compared to winter months.
Another study by the University of Southern California found that violent crime
increased by approximately 5.7% when temperatures were above 85 degrees.
A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined mass
shootings between 2013 and 2015 and found that mass shootings also increased during
the summer months. Specifically highest rates of mass shootings occurred between
May and September. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there are approximately 20
additional gun homicides of teens and kids during each summer month than any other
time during the year.

But it’s not just violent crime that increases during this time. There is an estimated
increase in home burglaries of 10.5% during the summer, while Memorial Day weekend
and the 4 th of July weekend are known as the deadliest weekends for driving under the
influence (DUI) of alcohol accidents.

While everyone may easily understand the increase in DUI accidents over the summer
holiday weekends, why is does the summer experience an increase in all other crimes?
According to several studies, the reason for the increase may be quite simple. As
temperatures rise, many people become uncomfortable as they overheat. This
discomfort can reduce a person’s patience while increasing aggression leading to
increased criminal activity.

A 2010 study of violence published in the journal “Weather, Climate and Society,” found
that hotter temperatures correlated to higher amounts of aggressive crime, especially
domestic violence and non-aggravated assaults.

Additionally, some researchers believe that longer daylight hours contribute to
increased crime rates. Longer daylight hours encourage people to stay outside and
away from their homes for longer periods of time. Longer days increase the amount of
time people interact with one another, such as BBQs, pool parties, beach time and
more. The more people interact with one another the more opportunity for crime.

Vacations also contribute to increased crime. Burglaries are often a crime of
opportunity. When homes are empty for summer vacations, the opportunity for
burglaries increases. When people are on vacations there is often an increase in
alcohol consumption and inebriation, which may contribute to an increase in crime.
School summer breaks also contribute to the increase in crime. When preteens and
teenagers are out of school, without other activities, they have a lot more freedom. This
freedom can include hanging out with friends, large gatherings, and increased criminal
activity.

So, what can we do? Before you pack up for a vacation, make sure your home is
secure. Have family, friends or neighbors check in on your home. Make sure there are
no obvious signs of an empty home.

Talk to the preteens and teens in your life. If summer camps and jobs aren’t an option,
make sure they understand the risks of large teen gatherings and the increase in teen
crime over the summer. If teens know what to expect, or what to avoid, they are better
armed to make the safe choices.

Stay cool. With temperatures rising every year there are a little things we can all do to
help make the rising temperatures more comfortable for ourselves and neighbors. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports shaded areas can be between 20 and 45
degrees cooler than unshaded areas. By planting shade plants around your home, you
can keep your yard and home cooler during the summer months.

Work with your local communities to increase the number of public shaded areas. Public
shade areas can include gazebos, awnings and urban tree canopies. Check out the
Arbor Day Foundation for ideas on urban tree canopies and the Social Life Project
highlights several other ways communities can work together to increase shade and
reduce temperatures. If summer gatherings can include increased shade, it can help
decrease tempers and aggression.

July 2024

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