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Does a heat wave equal a crime wave?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Violent crimes

This may or may not come as a surprise, but heat waves and crime waves tend to run together. 

Whether you’re looking at old studies that correlate the two or you’re just going off anecdotal evidence from what you hear on the news, the connection is clear – but the underlying causation is not.

What are the theories about why violent crime rises with the temperature?

Summer surges in violent crimes are nothing new, but neither science nor sociology has clear answers as to exactly why the crime waves tend to rise with the thermometer readings. Some of the most popular theories include:

  • There’s more opportunity for conflict: People are less inclined to stay home when the weather is sunny and bright, and that basically means that people are interacting more – and not all of those interactions are bound to be positive. 
  • People are already feeling stressed: Heat waves can create uncomfortable and oppressive physical conditions, especially in urban areas with limited access to air conditioning or other cooling measures. The “heat hypothesis” theory basically says that people tend to already feel a little aggravated by the heat, and that just makes them more likely to lose their tempers.
  • A lot of people are off their routines: Younger people are out of school for the summer and older people may be on vacation. Humans are often most comfortable when they have set routines, and the disruptions may make them more internally agitated – and prone to external expressions of those feelings.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you realize that the soaring temperatures can more easily lead to aggressive behavior and violent confrontations, you may be more inclined to steer clear of situations where you can end up in a fight. 

It’s important to remember, however, that if you are involved in an altercation that turns violent and you have to defend yourself, the authorities may “charge first, and ask questions later.” If you’re facing charges, find out more about your defense options.