Special Report

How Seasons and the Weather Affect Crime Trends

May 11, 2022 by Sarah Edwards in Special Report  
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Is there a Correlation between Weather and Crime?

Did you know that hot weather and crime tend to go hand in hand? After a vast number of studies on this topic, this conclusion has been reached in multiple countries, including the United States, England, and Australia.

Here’s how a hot summer in Los Angeles can lead to higher crime trends.

Countless Studies Reach the Same Conclusion

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, people are much more likely to be victims of violent crimes during the summer months. Almost every available study on the topic comes to the same conclusion: crime rates tend to go up as the weather gets hotter.

Criminologists, for example, have been aware for decades that murders and violent crimes are more frequent during hot summer months. Some research even specifies that crime rates increase during hotter days, regardless of the season.

The Chicago Data Portal, for example, shows statistics that support that the intensity of several different types of criminal activity correlates highly with certain weather conditions. They found that criminals are influenced by the weather, specifying that warm air, warm temperatures, and clear skies align with most types of criminal activities.

Statistics from Chicago Data Portal also show that criminal damage and air temperature appear to have the highest correlation (correlation coefficient: 0.84) among the different types of crime and weather indicators available in the data sample.

Instances of criminal damage are also highly negatively correlated with cloudy conditions (-0.8). This means people are less likely to commit crimes that involve property damage on cloudy days.

Another study used crime and temperature data from the city of Los Angeles. The authors of the study found that higher temperatures led to more crime. Days that reached a maximum temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit experienced 1.7% more crime, while days that reached a maximum temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, in particular, experienced 1.9% more crime, a 10% increase.

The LA-based study also found that the heat-crime relationship is significantly stronger in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty. Along with high temperatures, the age of buildings in the neighborhood and urban greenery are also strongly correlated with a crime increase.

Most experts tie in the fact that heat leads to aggressive behaviors with other factors like an increase in daylight hours, young people being out of school, and more foot traffic in general outside of homes.

When it comes to the mostly sunny climate in Southern California, you need to be particularly careful to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

How Are Hot Weather and Higher Crime Trends Linked?

Researchers repeatedly find that violent crimes tend to increase in hot weather. This is true in both laboratory-based research and real-world observational studies. But how does hot weather lead to crime? The following two theories try to answer that question.

Theory #1: The Routine Activity Hypothesis

The routine activity theory claims that violent crime goes up as the temperature goes up due to the enhanced interaction among the public in outdoor settings.

Warm temperatures allow for more people to be outside their homes more often, thus having more chances for social interaction. In turn, this allows more opportunities for those social interactions to end sour and end in confrontations.

There is an abundance of data that supports the routine activity hypothesis. Crime might also increase in the summer because there are more opportunities for crime in that season. During the summer, most people tend to leave their windows open for long periods of time and also tend to be away from home more often.

Some studies have also noted that since most schools are not in session during the summer months, an increased number of young people are on the streets. Males under 25 are reportedly more likely to commit crimes than older men.

Additionally, when cars are parked in garages and most people are out on vacations, crimes such as robberies and car thefts are more likely to increase.

Theory #2: The General Aggression or Temperature Aggression Hypothesis

The temperature aggression hypothesis suggests that higher temperatures make people more irritated and, therefore, more aggressive.

This hypothesis claims that uncomfortable temperatures can cause significant increases in aggressive motivation and, under the right set of conditions, aggressive behavior. It also states that the effects of heat are both direct and indirect.

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Feeling the Heat? We Can Help

It’s crucial to remember that no theory is set in stone, and the following are also connected to the way that a person behaves and reacts:

  • Demographic factors
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Cognitive capabilities
  • Personality
  • Biological factors

What we do know, however, is that hot weather affects crime trends, thus increasing your chance of needing an attorney.

Contact the Esfandi Law Group to schedule a free consultation today. Our team is here to help you with all of your legal needs in LA and Orange County.

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RESOURCES: Summer Crime Rates Increase

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