NBC News: Crimes Drops When It’s Cold

AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark
AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark

On February 20, NBC News reported that in addition to snow, cold winds, and terrible driving conditions, the freezing temperatures have brought with them one other thing—a reprieve from crime in Memphis, Boston, and New York, among other places.

In Ohio, the cold ushered in “a near-stoppage of property crime.”

According to NBC News, Greensboro, North Carolina, has seen reports of “larcenies, shoplifting, assaults, and domestic disputes” drop dramatically since the cold temperatures hit. Greensboro deputy police chief Brian Cheek said, “You don’t have people out and about in normal activity. If people aren’t out, they won’t be potential victims for criminals to choose from.”

Matthew Ransom is an economist at the firm Abt Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He just finished a 30-year study showing “a very strong historical relationship between temperature and crime” and found that crime in “nine major… categories” ranging from “murder to theft” decreased when temperatures fell below 50 degrees.

On average, he found that crime rates continued to decrease the further below 50 the temperature fell.

Inexplicably, Ransom found the exception to the pattern was auto theft—”which jumped when temperatures dropped below 10 degrees.”

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy said lower crime in winter months versus summer months is common knowledge, but he believes it is more of a seasonal cycle than a weather-related one. He said that during summer months “kids are out of school while adults, including police officers, are more likely to be off work.” He said these circumstances “don’t arise as often in winter,” therefore explaining a criminal’s tendency to lay low at that time.

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