Yes, weather does seem to impact crime trends

Jan 6, 2020

This winter's unseasonably warm weather may be creating an unusual problem: more crime on the streets because weather isn't keeping bad actors indoors.

Many people believe warm weather leads to more crime because more people are outside. Buffalo Police captain Jeff Rinaldo said there are fewer people around in colder weather.

"You do tend to see a little bit of a downward trend in terms of crime numbers," he said, "but as far as to speak to the same for violence, it would be really difficult for me to say that because violence, in and of itself, is very hard to predict and there's a number of factors that go into any type of violent crime."

There is a team at the University at Buffalo's School of Social Work looking into crime and crime trends. Associate Professor Patricia Logan-Greene said her work does not involve predicting crime, but can give guidance on those trends, particularly in a society with lots of guns being carried on the streets.

"There are certainly warning signs and some of those warning signs are the things that we think should prevent people from being able to purchase or own guns, such as having a record of any kind of domestic violence crime," she said. "It's a very big red flag for those who commit gun violence in other contexts."

There does seem to be an unusually high volume of crime this winter, like a fatal shooting and fatal stabbing Sunday. Logan-Greene said the researchers do see a trend in warmer winter events.

"We have definitely observed that, anecdotally, in some cities, especially snowy cities like this one, and I think that could probably be explained by the same behavioral patterns that cause people to be out more in the summer," she said. "People are out less in the winter. They are holed up and staying warm. So if you have an unseasonably warm winter, that might make people more likely to be out and about and getting into trouble."