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Why does crime increase over the summer?

Rising temperatures are just part of the equation

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Atlanta police have developed a plan to deal with the types of crime that typically increase over the summer months.

Summer brings picnics, vacations, and higher odds that you’ll fall victim to crime.

Study after study continues to show that when the calendar moves from spring to summer a variety of crimes soar like the mercury inside a thermometer.

Rising temperatures are definitely a factor. Heat can cause irritability, added aggression, and make it difficult to sleep.

Dr. Thaddeus Johnson is a criminologist with Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. He said the heat can have a stronger impact in certain neighborhoods.

“Think about your underserved and disadvantaged communities,” said Dr. Johnson. “A lot of those places don’t have air conditioning. It compels people to be outside. You have more opportunities for crime.”

Dr. Johnson is also a former police officer. He said the heat can affect the very people who are paid to fight crime.

Researchers in California found that when the temperature soars above 85-degrees, officers are not as active when it came to stopping vehicles.

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“It’s 97-degrees outside, you have on your vest, your uniform,” said Johnson. “It wears on you.”

Summer brings more opportunities for crime.

For example, tourists flock to Atlanta. Many of them are unfamiliar with the city.

They go to shops and clubs.

“You have these places where offenders have more targets for crimes, particularly retail districts where you see more thefts, perhaps more robberies,” Johnson explained.

Students are out of school. In homes where both parents work, that means young people who are unsupervised.

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Dr. Johnson said that’s of particular concern coming out of a challenging school year marked by the pandemic.

“They usually are able to develop coping skills in the school environment,” stated Johnson. “They didn’t have that. People are stressed.”

Not all crimes increase in the summer.

Car thefts are more common in the winter when drivers attempting to warm a car engine leave them running, only to return to an empty garage.



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