For most people, summer brings a rush of heat, happiness and fun. For others, it portends a rise in crime, both nonviolent and violent. A study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) confirms that crimes of several varieties tend to spike in the summer, for a number of reasons.
Which crimes increase, and when?
The BJS examined the seasonal frequency of crime in the United States. In summer – the beginning of June to the end of August – crime rates increased significantly. Some of the offenses that increased include:
- Other property crimes
- Assault and battery
- Intimate partner violence
- Sexual assault
Of these charges, property crimes had the largest spike. Burglary, for instance, was 11% more common in the summer than in other seasons.
The safest months for teens
Perhaps counterintuitively, summer is one of the safest seasons for teenagers and young adults. One might expect that crime toward teens and college students would follow the pattern of increasing during the summer, especially since young people would not have the structured schedule of school. However, early fall is actually the peak time for violent crime against teenagers.
Why does crime go up in the summer?
Although the study did identify a clear pattern, the BJS did not provide explanations for the increase in crime rates during the summer. It is also important to remember that correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. That is, just because more crimes take place during the summer does not prove definitively that the summer season is the cause.
It is not difficult to make hypotheses, however. One simple yet obvious answer is the weather. The Baltimore region is not exactly known for its mild winters. From the uncomfortable cold to the icy streets, many residents – criminals included – choose to stay inside during the winter. Summer’s pleasant weather is apparently also a pleasant time for criminals to break the law.