As the temperature rises during the summer months of June through September, so do crime rates. According to studies, crime can increase up to 35% during the summer.
In a 2014 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on seasonal crime in the United States, researchers found that the increasing crimes in question were violent crimes and property crimes like theft and burglary.
In these months, many police departments increase patrol in their community and even launch initiatives that focus on curbing crime rates.
What Counts as Property Crime?
To understand crime rates in the summer, let’s first explain what makes up property crime. According to the FBI, property crime includes offenses that damage property or involve theft without an explicit threat of violence against victims. Some of the top property crimes include the following:
- Burglary (entering with the intent to commit a felony)
- Home theft
- Motor vehicle theft
- Illegal dumping
Property Crime as a Whole is Actually Going Down
In a study released by the Pew Research Center, researchers took data from the FBI and BJS each year from 1993 to 2017.
Researchers found that property and nonviolent crimes are declining in the long-term.
However, when going deeper into understanding trends in property crime, the BJS found that although property crime as a whole is steadily declining, cities still experience an uptick in burglary during the summer months.
Why Does Crime Go Up During the Summer?
Several researchers have theories that attempt to pinpoint why both violent and property crimes increase during the summer.
Some researchers say longer daylight hours might contribute to the rise in crime rates.
Longer daylight hours encourage people to stay outside and away from their homes for longer periods of time, increasing the amount of foot traffic in public. Higher foot traffic creates more opportunity for crimes to occur.
Other researchers say students who are out of school for the summer contribute to both higher public foot traffic and higher crime as students have more free time on their hands.
Still others hypothesize that the rise in temperature causes an increase in irritability and aggressiveness, which could cause a rise in violent crimes.
Overall, higher temperatures, longer daylight hours, and more foot traffic create an increase in interaction between people which then provides more opportunity for crime.
Although studies are not conclusive enough to show how exactly warmer temperatures cause an increase in crime, researchers still agree that there is a correlation: When temperatures rise, so do property crimes.
Where Does Crime Rise the Most During Summer?
Researchers form Governing found that northern cities like Minnesota and New York saw the most increases in crime during the summer.
Researchers concluded that the city of Erie, Pennsylvania saw the highest increase in crime during the summer months, at 35%.
Other cities that reported high crime increases were tourist destinations like Virginia Beach.
Law enforcement agencies in northern cities say it’s likely that colder temperatures during the winter bring down overall crime rates, making the summer increase a higher jump.
So, What Can I Do to Stay Safe This Summer?
To help citizens stay safe during warm months, the Erie Police Department in Erie, Pennsylvania released a message to the city that included crime prevention tips.
“During this time of year, residents often leave their garage doors, front doors and windows open,” the Erie Police Department said in the message. “Items such as expensive bicycles, lawn mowers, and other household items are attractive to burglars.”
Here are some proactive safety tips you can follow to keep your property safe when temperatures rise.
Close and Lock Your Windows
Enjoy the summer breeze and extra daylight hours, but do remember to close and lock your windows when you leave your house or turn in for the night. Open windows are a prime entrance opportunity for potential burglars.
Open blinds also present an opportunity for people to look inside your home or your garage. When closing your windows, remember to also reach for the blinds.
Don’t Hide Spare Keys Outside
With school and college classes out for the summer, many parents are expecting children home during the summer months. Don’t want to wait up for your traveling child? It can be tempting to keep a spare key hidden under a flower pot or a doormat.
This provides an easy opportunity for burglars to gain access to your home.
Consider keeping your key in a lockbox that requires a unique combination code, or even a smart lock that connects to an app.
See Something, Say Something
If you haven’t already, make friends with your neighbors. Friendly neighbors are more likely to look out for each other. Just as you expect your neighbors to speak up if they notice suspicious activity around your home, do the same for them.
Don’t assume someone else has reported the suspicious vehicle or individual you’ve seen. Police encourage citizens to help be their eyes and ears by staying alert and making the call when something catches their eye.
Regardless of where you’ll spend your time this summer, enjoy the time off, the summer breeze, and the extra daytime. But stay alert and keep your property safe with these tips.