The Connection Between Hot Weather and Crime


Reposted from the Harris County Precinct One Constable Newsletter, to view the newsletter in your browser, click here

It’s hot out there. And most experts have concluded that when the outdoor temperature goes up, so does criminal behavior, even if only slightly.

Some of the explanations for the pattern are pretty basic. The “bad guys” prefer warm nights to move around in, compared to cold seasons when the frost matches their cold criminal hearts. Law-abiding families with school-age children are most likely to take vacations in the summer, leaving their dwellings and vehicles vacant and unwatched for a while, which may make them targets for burglary.

In fact the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics documented a 10 percent increase in  burglaries during the summer.

Other explanations for the pattern are rooted in biology. Testosterone and adrenaline naturally rise in human bodies during heat waves, researchers say, and this can lead to some people becoming more agitated, more prone to violence. In other words, people may get hot under the collar when it’s hot outside.

With the probable connection between weather and behavior in mind, the ways to prevent crime are the similar to the steps we have urged in other situations:

-- Be aware of your surroundings in public spaces such as parking lots and foot paths as more people are out and about.

-- Arrange with a neighbor, relative or friend to keep an eye on your home and vehicles while you are on a summer trip. Where the service is offered by police, sign up for a “vacation watch” on your home. If you have a home alarm system, consider alerting your alarm company that you will be away for a while. Use lighting timers and other devices to make it look like someone is home.

-- Factor in the effect of the heat on any disputes among people you know. Taking an argument inside where the air is cooler may help cool down their anger and lower the potential for a physical confrontation.

Be chill!