VERIFY: Does Crime Increase In Summertime?

Verify: Crime & Heat

GREENSBORO, NC -- The days are getting longer and hotter, and soon you'll hear a familiar warning from your local police department: protect yourself and your house, because crime increases in summer.

You might think -- that makes sense. People are away during summer vacation, and burglars take advantage. But we want to prove whether the claim is true. We broke up the claim into two questions and used credible sources for insight.

Question 1:

Do home burglaries increase in summertime?


Verify Process:

The Bureau of Justice Statistics report looked at data from 1993 to 2010. It found a seasonal pattern in household burglary rates. And yes, you guessed it -- household burglaries were higher in the summer than in the other seasons.

Now, let's look at the local data from the Greensboro Police Department. In the past two years, the number of home burglaries gradually increased from January to August. For example, in January 2016, there were 118 home burglaries compared to 164 in August.

But, there's a caveat -- there were similar home burglary numbers in the year-end holiday months. Remember, we saw 164 in August 2016. But, there were 200 in October 2016, 205 in November 2016 and 155 in December 2016.

Verify Conclusion:

Overall, we can verify the claim is true. Home burglaries do increase during summer, but here in Greensboro, they spike again during the holidays. 

Question 2:

Do violent crimes -- like murder, assault, rape and robbery -- increase in summertime?


Verify Process:

Greensboro Police Department crime data over the past two years shows violent crime increased heading into summer. For example, in January 2016, there were 102 violent crimes, compared to 127 in August. But, after summer, the numbers didn't go down. They fluctuated, and thus this data doesn't really prove or disprove the claim.

So, let's go to our second source. The Bureau of Justice Statistics study compiled crime data from 1993 to 2010. It found all violent crimes except robbery showed a clear seasonal trend. They all increased during summer.

But, why? Greensboro psychotherapist Nannette Funderburk says it's not the temperature. Heat doesn't usually trigger aggression. Rather, people pre-dispositioned to crime act on the opportunities summer creates. Those opportunities include vacations, open windows, relaxed dispositions, etc. -- all of which makes us vulnerable to crime.

Verify Conclusion:

Overall, we can verify the claim is true. Violent crime does increase during summertime, but the seasonal difference isn't huge. So, police urge you to keep your guard up year-round.


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Copyright 2017 WFMY


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