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Crime freeze

Police say weather plays a factor in illegal activity

Police say weather plays a factor in illegal activity

October 27, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

erinc@herald-mail.com

When temperatures dropped recently, people reached for winter coats and bulky sweaters.

While they were bracing for the season's chilliest week, area police anticipated a change in criminal activity that usually accompanies cold weather.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Paul Kifer said it seems that snow, rain, low temperatures and inclement weather often reduce the number of incidents to which officers respond.

Hagerstown Police do not keep statistics about weather's affect on crime, and Kifer based his statements on personal observation.

On cold days, especially during snowstorms, Kifer said residents tend to stay at home. Because they stay home, the chance of a vehicle accident is eliminated. He said shoplifting reports drop during periods of inclement weather.

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"People don't go out and shop, so there is no shoplifting," Kifer said.

If residents stay at home, they also will not commit most other crimes, he said.

Kifer said because people stay home during bouts of winter weather, there are less people on the roads reporting suspicious activity to police.

"(Bad weather) reduces the number of people who would see those suspicious things," Kifer said. "It also reduces the number of people that could be acting suspicious."

Maryland State Police Sgt. K.D. Scheer said he notices that during "extreme weather" crime is suppressed.

"It forces people indoors," he said. "But then, domestic crime goes up."

Scheer said when people are cooped up indoors during snowstorms or inclement weather, the number of reported domestic crimes goes up.

Kifer said the light rain that fell in Hagerstown for the past few days has not affected crime.

"When you get into a rainy pattern, things go back to normal," he said. "People realize they need to get out again."

But he expects that the county's first snowstorm will have an impact.

"People are hunkered down at home and don't go out and get in trouble," he said.

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