Historically, nearly all categories of crime increase during the hot summer months of June, July and August. This is borne out in FBI historical data.
As weather warms up, so do opportunities for crime. FBI statistics indicate a roughly 10 percent increase in crime in all categories and an even steeper climb in the more serious violent crimes such as muggings, assaults and robberies.
With the warmer temperatures, there is a rise in social interactions, which may present more opportunities for the commission of crime. Warmer weather can bring together potential criminals, potential victims and openly carried valuables. When these factors converge, the potential for crime rises.
Doors and windows are left open and electronics such as entertainment media are left on the patio table, offering any opportunist a viable target.
There are those of the opinion that hot temperatures can shorten tempers, which may increase the occurrence of assaultive crimes. I subscribe to this as a probable cause of increased assaults during the summer months.
These actors not withstanding, summer vacationing students often add to the mix, committing crimes of opportunity such as thefts, criminal mischief and malicious damage. Do I believe that vacationing teens are wholly responsible for the increase in summer crime? Certainly not, but some teens are.
Boredom, brought on by a lack of activities for teens is frequently the catalyst for senseless property crimes.
Harker Heights, more than any other municipality of its size in the region, offers adolescents and young adults a variety of facilities aimed toward their needs.
The newly christened Armed Services YMCA in Harker Heights is but one example. Both Killeen and Belton offer water parks as an enjoyable venue to beat the summer heat. Swimming pools are available throughout Central Texas.
What can parents do to prevent their children from being enticed into criminal behavior?
It’s not a simple solution. There must be an established bond of trust between parent and child. Parents must talk to their children about the consequences of criminal behavior beyond the point of simply admonishing them not to engage in that behavior.
Parents must set a realistic curfew for their children during the summer months, and above all, parents must know where their children are and what they are doing.
When a 14-year old child is out at 3 a.m., he or she is up to no good. That is not a realistic or advisable curfew. Keep in mind that parents are liable for a minor child’s actions, particularly when the parent is negligent.
John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.