It has been all over the news; the past 12 months have been the warmest on record in the United States.  For proof, one only need step outside. With temperatures climbing into the triple-digits across much of the country this past week, everyone is aching for relief, including the police.

Ask any LEO, and he or she will tell you that when temperatures heat up, so does criminal activity. While anecdotal evidence abounds, there’s actual scientific evidence to prove the positive effect of temperature on crime rates.

On their staff blog, The 312, Chicago Magazine provides evidence of the crime-heat relationship with diagrams of their crime rates over the course of two years, noting a direct correlation between heat waves and crime rates.  The British Journal of Criminology published a study noting this phenomena and its effect on violent and property crimes. Their findings were quite interesting, showing that it is only temperature variation that affects crime, independent of season, sun exposure, and precipitation.

The documentation of this well-known correlation does leave some mystery, however. No one seems able to prove WHY crime rates rise with rising temperatures. There are a few theories, though nothing proven. One theory is that sharp rises in temperature create agitation and lead to more arguments and thus, violence. Another theory is that warmer temperatures lead people outside, causing more interpersonal interactions, and thus opportunity for victimizations.

Whatever the cause, the message is clear: when the heat rises, make sure you keep your cool.

Learn more here:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/09/us/extreme-heat/index.html?hpt=us_c2

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/March-2012/Heat-and-Crime-Its-Not-Just-You-Feeling-It/

http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/3/340.abstract

Kate is a military wife turned LEO wife, a former preschool teacher, and a Marketing student at McKendree University. Kate’s interests are blogging, reading, writing, personal finance, and social consciousness. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, their two cats, King Solomon and Millie, and their dog, Spartacus. View her personal blog at http://katestrophe.blogspot.com/, or contact her confidentially through the Law Enforcement Today website or at [email protected]