How cold temperatures impact area crime

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) –  It’s no secret that this winter, Mother Nature hasn’t been too kind.

“Snow followed by frigid temperatures, snow again, frigid temperatures. It’s been one of the worst winters at least in recent memory, if not historically,” said News 18 Meteorologist Cameron Hopman.

While many of us may not enjoy it, Lafayette Police Crime Analyst Steve Hawthorne said Mother Nature’s bitter cold habits may actually be helpful when it comes to controlling crime.

“The winter time is the lowest time, you see it in all of the data, we get dips in crime in the winter time,” said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne said that goes for crimes against both people and property. He said the reasoning behind the numbers is simple.

“It generally is that people are cold and they stay inside and even criminals tend to do that,” said Hawthorne.

Collectively in March and April of 2013, there were 63 reported personal crimes. In November and December, that number dropped by 32 percent to just 43.

While cold weather may be a good way to control crime, it’s not going to stay cold for too much longer.

“We all know we live in Indiana and things can change like that, but there are some long-range models that are trending much warmer, not this week, but next week,” said Hopman.

That warming trend will most likely lead to more residents enjoying the outdoors, and possibly more people out committing crimes.

“That’s the trend that we see, and I expect it to continue like that,” said Hawthorne.

Weather aside, Hawthorne said personal crimes, which include things like homicides and aggravated assaults, have remained stable here in Lafayette over the last 10 years or so.

However, property crimes, which include burglaries and theft, have increased. Hawthorne said 92 percent of crimes committed in Lafayette fall under this category.

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