As the temperature rises in the summer, does crime increase along with it?
The correlation might be a bit hazy, but generally the numbers reflect the answer is yes.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said summer is “peak season” for enforcement, with statistics reflecting an increase in crime. In addition to kids being out of school, warmer temperatures just mean more going on generally, she said.
“With just hotter temperatures that also tends to bring folks outside to engage in water activities, barbecuing, parties, etc.,” she said.
Although one local law enforcement agency in the county said higher crime in hotter months is a phenomenon that was more pronounced in previous years.
“I ... would have told you that crime tended to rise during the summer months and right after Thanksgiving to Christmas, largely in part due to school being out during these times,” Oakwood Police Department Capt. Andrew C. Smith said.
But looking at a statistical breakdown of crime in Oakwood by seasons, from 2008 to 2013, Smith said the increase was less for nontraffic-related offenses.
“You could say that crime tended to rise a small amount, but even with the other months factored in, it didn’t tend to skyrocket,” he said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation keeps statistics for crimes reported in the county, and the seasonal breakdowns from the most recent year available reflect an increase in property crimes.
In 2012, from May through August there were 120 vehicle thefts reported in Hall County, and 1,145 larcenies, or nonviolent thefts. There were 329 burglaries reported.
Conversely, in the four-month period prior to May, there were 82 vehicle thefts reported, 932 larcenies and 280 burglaries.
No matter the time of year, certain precautions can reduce the chances of being a victim, Smith said. There are particular crimes to look for.
“In the past, I would have told you that burglaries and entering autos were the two crimes that you would see escalate during these times,” Smith said.
He offered advice to reduce the chances of being a victim of a car or home break-in.
“As far as entering autos goes, be mindful to keep valuables out of sight when leaving your vehicle unattended,” he said. “Nothing looks more inviting to a person wanting to steal than seeing money, laptops, cameras or smartphones in plain sight, looking ripe for the picking.”
If you still feel the need to leave behind enticing goods, he said, keep them out of sight, in the trunk or glove compartment.
Cpl. Kevin Holbrook with the Gainesville Police Department reiterated Smith’s advice, and added location is another key consideration for protecting your car.
“Try to always park in well-lit areas,” Holbrook said. “That’s something to be mindful of not just in the parking lot at your apartment, for example, but another thing we see a lot are vulnerable cars in parking lots of shopping areas.”
Empty homes can also be more susceptible to an opportunistic criminal, and both the Gainesville police and Hall County Sheriff’s Office offer services to send periodic patrols to residents’ homes when on vacation, which can be made through a request on the phone or online.
Other preparedness measures, like keeping a well-documented home inventory, could ease trouble down the road, Smith said.
“Take note of what you have and write it down,” he said. “Include serial numbers and make and models. Make two copies of your inventory: one that you can keep at home and one that you can keep somewhere else, in case something happens to your home copy.”
Some final advice?
“You’re not going to be able to stop everyone, and we often say that you’ll just stop the honest thief,” he said. “If you take the extra time to just lock your doors and put things up, that will go a long way.”