Crime in Paradise is a frequent theme of my books. I’ve written eight books set in the Sunshine State. Partly because I live in Florida and know it well. But also because the statistics show that Florida’s weather may influence crime rates and the types of crime found in the state. When we think of all those lovely Florida winters, we don’t usually consider the crime rates, right?
According to NeighborhoodScout.com, 10 of the 100 most dangerous cities in the U.S. are in Florida. Danger levels were based on reports of violent crime, like murder, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, per 1,000 residents. In other words, numbers were adjusted to account for population. And Florida still had 10 of the top 100 most dangerous cities.
Is Florida’s hot weather a part of the reason for the violent crime incidents?
According to The New York Times, there are two big weather factors that lead to more violence: exceptionally high temperatures, and extreme amounts of rainfall. Ding, ding, ding! That weather has “Florida” written all over it.
In case you’re wondering why hot weather and rain correlate with more violent crimes, there are a couple theories: 1) Hot weather makes people angry, which leads to aggression, and 2) Too much rainfall can lead to scarcity of crops, which leads people to fight over the supply.
I ran across a few interesting notes about cold weather and crime, too, while we’re at it:
- An economist named Matthew Ranson found that crime generally decreases when the temperature drops below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The colder it gets, the lower the crime rate.
- There’s one type of crime though, that doesn’t decrease with the temperature: car theft. Which, Ranson says, is probably because drivers tend to leave their cars running with the heat on in the cold weather.
Sure enough, I don’t believe car theft has ever made it into one of my Florida-based thrillers.
Where does your city rank in terms of crime rates? You can check here: http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/crime-rates/
First, in both my undergraduate and graduate business quant classes, the secondary…and mostly used…textbook was titled HOW TO LIE WITH STATISTICS.
Second, the statistic used was designated crime/1000 population—so a town of 100,000 has a denominator of 100. Thus 1 of all specified crime becomes the numerator.
Third, trust me on this. 1 (crime)/263 (Orlando) is a whole lot bigger than 1 (crime)/849000 (NYC).
The other issue, as we have been seeing, is how crime is being both treated and reported. While I am not trying to turn this into a political/sociological discussion, we have to take a long hard look at the issue. Having lived in a number of the states(Ohio, Wisconsin, California, New Jersey, New York) –and in or near cities listed (Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Atlantic City, Philly/Camden/Trenton) this is not perception…it is reality.
No, I don’t have a Jack Reacher near savant number thing. Really. I just have had too damn many meetings with marketing shills trying to inflate numbers.
Thoughts on a Saturday morning after spending part of Friday seeing to a friend in an Atlantic City medical center…