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Why property crimes increase during the winter

A lot of factors influence criminal activity, including poverty, social status, police policy and family conditions. However, there is one contributor to the crime rate that may come as a surprise: weather. There are different trends in criminal behavior depending on the season.

While crimes against people are more prevalent in the summer, property crimes actually spike during the winter. Common property crimes during the winter season include the following:

  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Burglary
  • Shoplifting

Here is an analysis of why crimes against property are more likely to occur as the temperatures drop.

Money problems

Winter comes with a variety of economic hurdles for a lot of people. For example, seasonal unemployment is at its highest during the winter. Many expenses also increase during this time, including heating bills, electricity bills, holiday shopping and clothing purchases. This may cause people to commit offenses out of monetary motivation. People who do not already have a consistent income may be more likely to commit property crimes.

An increase in human needs

One reason why there is an increase in certain crimes during the winter is that there is more pressure to find reliable transportation, shelter and food. The basic instinct to survive kicks in and results in theft becoming more common, especially regarding cars and food. 

Shorter days and fewer people

The winter season means it starts to get darker earlier. Individuals are more likely to partake in criminal activity when it is dark instead of in the daylight. Additionally, fewer people tend to be outside and active during the winter, which some may see as an opportunity to commit a crime because there may be fewer witnesses. 

Unattended vehicles

Most people do not enjoy getting into a freezing cold vehicle when they need to get to work in the morning. This may cause some individuals to turn their cars on and leave them empty while they warm up. More unattended vehicles may contribute to an increase in carjackings. 

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