Weather not only factor in campus crime rates

Chelsey Boutan

During warm weather, less students are inside, which could decrease the chances of criminal infractions occurring, said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith.

“When it’s cold outside, students tend to come inside and not be outside,” Smith said. “So when you increase the number of people and students in small spaces, you have the opportunity for things to happen.”

Smith said crime statistics stay somewhat consistent from month to month, but the NIU police tend to see more alcohol and drug violations, thefts and physical altercations during colder weather. A correlation between weather and campus crime may exist, but Smith said there are other contributing factors.

When students leave for winter break or are busy stressing out about midterm exams, there is a decrease in crime, Smith said. But when students come back from spring break, there is an initial rise in crime rates, and then a low as some students focus on school or prepare to graduate, Smith said.

DeKalb Police Lt. Gary Spangler said in the spring, there is an initial increase of violent crimes in DeKalb because people are more apt to venture outside. In warm weather, campus parties sometimes “spill outside,” and there is more drinking, Spangler said.

At the same time, Spangler said crime statistics fluctuate for many reasons, some of which are not related to weather.

According to the NIU Offense Log, there were 221 offenses in October. In September there were 195 offenses recorded and 130 in November.

Smith said when the fall semester starts, there is a spike in campus crimes like sex assaults, thefts and fights, because some students are away from their parents for the first time and may take advantage of the additional freedom they have.

An increase in criminal offenses can be seen during the first week of fall semester. According to the NIU Offense Log, from Aug. 22 to Aug. 25, there were 52 criminal offenses out of a total 127 criminal offenses for that month.

Spangler said there is an increase in crimes at the beginning of the fall semester in DeKalb.

“In fall, when school starts, we will see a spike, but then once people start feeling more comfortable in their environment, we usually notice a drop toward the beginning of winter,” Spangler said.

Spangler said it is important to analyze patterns over long periods of time because an individual or group could be contributing to a recent increase in crimes.

“It’s just some interesting cycles that occur,” Spangler said. “When students come and go, weather gets warmer, and other various factors come into play which may cause us more problems.”