You wait all year for summer – it’s a season of freedom and family vacations. However, summer is also considered one of the most dangerous times of the year; crime rates rise and assaults increase. Even when you think you’re safe in the summer, you could be the victim of petty or violent crime.
According to the popular “heat hypothesis,” higher temperatures have been linked to spiked aggression. This surge in hostility, combined with more free time in the summer, often leads to more crime and offenses.
Sgt. Lance Koppa, public information officer of Highland Park DPS, explained, “Criminals don’t want to go outside when it’s bad weather. With the summertime, you have longer days and better weather. When it’s good weather, you see an increase in smaller property offenses.”
July And August Are The Most Dangerous Months
The link between heat and hostility is not a new concept. In the 1800s and early 1900s, scholars found an increase in violent crime in the summer months, according to an article from Iowa State University’s Department of Psychology. Centuries before that, Shakespeare wrote that hot days make the blood stir in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Jerome McKean, a professor from Ball State University, concluded that “there is a definite correlation" between an increase in temperature and rise in crime. McKean continued, "The peak months for most forms of crime are July and August, especially for property crimes."
Weather aside, McKean said that minor crimes, including burglaries and vehicle thefts, increase in the summer because “the most frequent perpetrators of such crimes aren’t in school.” Idle time combined with spiked aggression results in more crime in the summer.
It’s Not Just Property Theft – It’s Also Violent Crime
Property theft doesn’t seem too dangerous, but it’s only one risk in the summer. Heat-induced hostility also yields violent behavior and domestic disputes. The article from Iowa State University explains, “Aggression—as measured by assault rates, spontaneous riots, spouse batterings, and batters being hit by pitched baseballs—is higher during hotter days, months, seasons, and years.”
To protect yourself and your family this summer, be aware of the following risks:
Property thefts including lawn equipment and tools
Automobile burglaries, especially among unlocked vehicles
Home burglaries while gone on vacation
Domestic disputes and threatening assaults
Heat Hostility Affects Everyone – Even Parents
Awareness is the first step in preventing summer crime. Sgt. Koppa said, “You have to think about ways to reduce the opportunity of someone taking something from me. Ask, ‘What can I do on top of what I’m already doing?’”
When leaving for vacation, ask a trusted neighbor to look after your house. “Give the appearance that you’re home [when you’re gone],” Sgt. Koppa said. “Let neighbors know you’re gone so if something appears out of the ordinary, they can call the police department.”
In addition to taking precautionary steps, ask yourself if the heat is making you hostile. Are you more aggressive when driving in traffic? Do you seem more irritable when playing with your children? Do you yell at your son’s little league game?
You don’t have to be a criminal to be affected by heat-induced hostility. Higher temperatures can spike anyone’s aggression, but you can stop it if you see it.