Can weather predict crime?

Over the past several years, the relationship between weather and crime rates has emerged as a major focus in the field of criminology. The overall consensus among researchers is that severe weather—high temperatures, large amounts of precipitation, etc.—leads to more crime. According to the Department of Justice, burglaries are 10.5 percent more likely to happen in the summer than in the winter and violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault are also “significantly higher.”

Weather Photo

“Many studies show a correlation between weather and crime, with crime increasing during hotter weather,” said Dr. David McDowall, a criminology professor at the University of Albany. “I believe these findings are valid as a set because they appear consistently over many studies using different data and methodological approaches.”

One of the prominent theories as to why crime rates seem to rise along with the thermometers can be summarized in two words: scarcity and aggression. The former term is more commonly used in low-income areas, where drastic weather can render people fighting for survival; the desperation of these circumstances often results in crime. The latter term is based on the idea that people experience pent up anger and agitation as temperatures become more stifling and are then more likely to release these emotions in violent ways. Continue reading