There is a popular perception that when the weather becomes colder and winter conditions take hold that less crime is committed, and that the community is generally safer. This is true, in that sometimes statistics imply that less total crimes are reported over freezing days. However, it is a critical miscalculation to interpret that to mean all crimes see a universal drop without considering how the weather affects specific types of crime.
Warmer days see a higher number of spontaneous crimes, especially passion crimes and violence in crowds. In colder weather, people in general spend less time outside or at events, meaning there are fewer opportunities for these types of crimes to occur. Calculated crimes can see very different behavior patterns. Burglary and property theft frequently see higher rates of crime in lower temperatures, in particular in businesses that need to shut down during days they would normally work. Often snow days with low crime rates will see a large increase when the temperature rises, showing that the cold will only delay and not deter a determined criminal.
Climate shapes how people live. However, it is arguable that many of the effects on crime are due more to the changing habits of the population as opposed to the temperature itself. Auto theft spikes as millions of cars are left running unattended while they warm up. Higher unemployment rates, fewer witnesses, and hours of extra darkness all assist in making the determined criminal’s task easier. Weather does not prevent crime, any more than it causes it, and cutting corners in protection only ensures you are at your most vulnerable.
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