Crime rates and crime types vary by season, but the summer months usually see the biggest increases in violent crime, theft, and burglary. The trends noted in this article are based on patterns observed by Geolitica’s own customers as well as DoJ analysis of crime trends from 1993 through 2010.
There are a few reasons for the increases in summer crimes, all of which have implications for proactive police patrols. First of all, of course, is the weather. As temperatures warm up, people get out of their houses and start to spend more time outdoors. Numerous studies have shown that increasing numbers of people moving about and interacting together generally coincide with an increase in violent crimes such as assaults and robberies.
Burglaries also increase in the summertime. As temperatures warm up, some people are tempted to leave doors and windows open or unlocked, presenting easy opportunities for theft. And with school out, more families go on vacation, leaving a greater number of unattended residences as potential targets.
As schools let out for the summer, students go from a controlled daytime environment to the relative freedom of summer vacation. In some cases, this means that crimes centered around schools will disappear for the summer; in others, these crimes can disperse out into the community. Interestingly enough, teens are less likely to be the victim of assault in the summer, but this risk goes up again in the fall as they return to school.
The composition of the population can also change during summer months. Tourist destinations will see an influx of many more non-residents as schools let out and the weather improves. In some cases, visitors may present attractive targets for crimes as they navigate an unfamiliar environment. In other cases, these visitors can include some bad actors who see the chance to operate in a target-rich environment as people let their guard down while on vacation.
We have also seen crime patterns change driven by the micro-climates within a large city or county. In coastal communities, violent crimes tend to increase along the beach as higher numbers of people cool off by the water. In the hotter inland parts of the city, however, violent crimes may decrease as people stay indoors and take advantage of their air conditioning. These differences can balance each other out, so although the total number of violent crimes in a city may remain relatively unchanged in the summer, the locations where they occur can change dramatically during hotter months.
All of this has implications for proactive crime prevention. As crime types and locations change in the summer, agencies should be changing their patrol patterns to anticipate and try to deter them from occurring. It’s a well-established principle of criminology that the presence of an officer will help prevent certain types of property and violent crimes.
Geolitica helps your agency achieve this. Our platform analyzes multiple years of crime data for your community to identify variations in crime types and locations. We can discover patterns by time of day, day of week, and season of year, and then identify likely hotspots for your officers to patrol. Geolitica can help put your officers in the right places at the right times so they can be even more effective at deterring crime.
With COVID lockdowns coming to an end, we expect to see an even greater surge this summer of people getting out to their favorite parks and beaches and going away on vacations. Crime is likely to go up as well.