Summertime, with its longer days, warmer nights and no school for a couple of months, seems like a great time of year.
But there is a rise in some types of crime in the summer, and those longer days, warmer nights and no school have a lot to do with it, said Sergeant Osvaldo Dominguez, public information officer for the Visalia Police Department.
“Idle time for kids is never a good thing,” he said.
There are a lot of juvenile and gang-related problems in the summertime, he said. These problems include assaults of all kinds, as well as shootings and stabbings. And another set of crimes generally attributed to juveniles is malicious mischief. This is the defacing or destruction of property by tagging with spray paint, breaking windows and other marring of property without burglarizing.
It is not just that it is hot. It is that the days are long and the weather is nice throughout the night.
“They have all day and all night to do whatever they want to do,” Dominguez said.
More crimes of opportunity can also occur, like burglaries and theft when families are out of town and property is left unattended, he added.
“The best prevention is awareness,” he said. “As soon as you see something, let us know. These are usually not random acts.”
Dominguez recommends letting your “trusted” neighbors know if you are going out of town. He warned, however, that some neighbors can be the source of problems rather than prevention, so consider who you are speaking with regarding your plans.
A Tulare County Sheriff’s Department comparison of home burglaries, auto burglaries and malicious mischief within the county for the past few years reveals a definite increase of auto break-ins and thefts from cars during the summer months. The more people are out and about, the more their cars are too. Also, there are more vehicles parked in general locations where events are taking place, explained Meagan Rapozo, public information officer for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
There is also an increase in residential burglaries during the warmer months. In part, due to windows and doors being left open.
One easily preventable crime that rises with warmer temperatures, is that of scam and bunco artists. Beware of someone offering unsolicited repairs for home, driveway or car. Report this type of solicitation to your local law enforcement office.
Summer crimes may also include business and agricultural property, although whether they are really higher in summer versus other times of the year is hard to determine, Rapozo said.
“There really isn’t an easy answer for ag-related crime,” she said.
Often agricultural crime may not be discovered for a while. For example, fuel theft could occur in the summer, but may not be discovered for weeks or even months, until a particular vehicle is to be used again. Only then does the owner or worker find there is nothing in the tank, she said.
“It is just what and when people are noticing it, more than anything,” she said.
Both Rapozo and Dominguez also referred to the ongoing problem of copper theft from businesses, as well as residences and municipal facilities as well. While this is not a seasonal problem, it remains in the forefront of theft-related crimes.
Dominguez also commented that in many incidences, it is the same criminals repeating the same offenses over and over again. And although the same offenders keep repeating the same types of crimes, the victims are often different.
Most prevention is common sense. Lock up valuables. Be aware of the surroundings, even more so at night. Do not leave valuables in the car, and park cars in well-lit areas whenever possible. Let a responsible person know when you family is to be away, and have them check on things often and make it look as though someone is at home.
And while there may be an increase of crimes in the summer, generally, crime rates are down from what they were six or seven years ago, Dominguez said.
Figures from the Tulare County Sheriff’s office concur.
“The long-term trend is that we are doing much better,” he said. “But we cannot predict what this summer will bring.”