“Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” can get really crazy. Summer crime rates increase, particularly in large cities. Learn about the effects of temperature on criminal behavior – and how to protect yourself and your property.
Summer Crime Rates Are Higher For Both Property Crimes & Assaults
Summer is supposed to be the best time of the year, but it sure brings out the worst in some people. A study released by the US Dept. of Justice in 2014 found a definite correlation between the season and the crime rate. Researchers found that crime rates are often lower in the fall and winter, while peaking in the summer. Some of the summer crime rate increases were significant.
- Burglary: 11% higher.
- Household larceny (theft of property outside the home): 8% higher.
- Reported sexual assaults: 10% higher.
- Reported domestic violence assaults: 11.5% higher.
- Other assaults: 4-7% higher.
Inside, outside… it seems like everywhere is a slightly more dangerous place during hot weather.
Temperatures and Tempers Spike In Summer
Some cities see as much as a 35% increase in major crime types. The rate of increase is larger in cold climates, but the majority of areas see summer crime rates increase, when temperatures are high. Law enforcement experts and psychologists offer several explanations.
- Kids are out of school and have time on their hands. While some crime experts disagree, police aren’t reticent about making the connection between summer vacation and juvenile crime.
- People travel more in the summer, and empty houses are a more attractive target. Social media also plays a role because people share a lot of personal information online: “About to board the plane to Rome. Should be a great two weeks!” Burglars not only know you’re gone; they know how long they can sit around naked on your couch.
- More opportunity. People are more likely to leave their windows open during hot weather. They’re outside more also, so bikes, patio furniture, laptops, and other valuables are often outside and unattended.
- Heat exacerbates hot tempers. People interact more during hot weather and there is evidence that high temperatures increase irritability and aggression. Violent assaults increase during the summer. During a heat wave in Chicago in 2012, 20 people were shot and 3 killed during a three-day period.
- Alcohol consumption. A couple of cold beers may not cool your temper. Alcohol consumption is a key risk factor in violence, and alcohol usage tends to increase in hot weather.
Wow. Take a bunch of overheated, angry, drunken people and send them out looking for trouble. Crime statistics show that they’re likely to find it.
Staying Safe in The Summer
With property crimes, the most important thing to remember is that criminals don’t take vacations. They wait for you to take yours and for you to let your guard down.
The warm summer months when you’re outside is the perfect time to get to know your neighbors. That makes it much easier to spot suspicious people or vehicles that may be casing the neighborhood.
Always keep your doors locked and don’t leave valuables outside. It only takes seconds for a passerby to grab your unattended laptop off the porch or a bike from the front yard. This security camera video shows how quickly it can happen:
This wasn’t a premeditated crime, but a crime of opportunity – and the homeowner provided the opportunity!
Secure your home when you’re away too. Keep your vacation and travel plans quiet. You can never be sure who is watching or talking. An offhand comment by a co-worker to a friend or family member that “so-and-so from my office is headed to the Galapagos this week for an awesome vacation” may fall on the wrong ears. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house, collect the mail, and keep the grass cut.
Finally, remember that fire and/or water damage often cause more financial losses than theft.
A burst pipe spews water quickly, but even a leaky dishwasher hose or hot water heater can cause a lot of damage in a week. Your landlord would be responsible for fixing the damage to the structure, but you’ll have to replace your stuff. That’s why we recommend using smoke alarms and flood sensors along with your basic GetSafe DIY home security system. The entry sensors and cameras protect you from intruders, our smoke and water monitoring protects you from dangers inside your home.
Have a great, safe summer!