Heat Wave Blamed for Crime in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The recent heat wave rolling across Mid-Missouri is resulting in an increased amount of crime, according to Columbia Police Dispatch. Police data shows crime-related calls from the hottest days this year increased 75% compared to some of the coldest.

KOMU 8 News collected Columbia Police Dispatch data from June 28 to July 3 and compared crime-related calls during those six days to calls from February 9 to February 14.

Crime-related calls made from June 28 - July 3 include:

  • Shots Fired: 9
  • Vandalism: 32
  • Harassment: 24
  • Disturbance: 69
  • Burglary and Shoplifting: 33

Calls made from February 9 - February 14 include:

  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Vandalism: 11
  • Harassment: 24
  • Disturbance: 47
  • Burglary and Shoplifting: 12

From June 28 to July 3 the department received 167 calls. During the six days in February, the department received 96 calls. This is nearly a 75% increase in the amount of calls.

Columbia Police Sgt. Jill Schlude said the data doesn't surprise her. She said the department plans ahead to dispatch more officers during the summer months.

"This year we've kind of spread some people out into different areas of the city where we've had an increased number of calls--the Derby Ridge area and obviously the Douglass Park area," Schlude said.

Schlude said so far this summer the most common crime-related calls are domestic violence calls. She says the hot weather and lack of rain is the reason.

"People being very hot, fatigued, dehydrated, and irritable, and we're going to get an increased number of calls. Particularly domestic violence calls you get families, spouses, children inside a house with no air conditioning-tensions are going to flare up," she said.

According to the Columbia Police Department, the rise in crime during hot months only occurs in areas that experience four seasons.

"Areas such as Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago, we all get winter and summer. So when it's hot people react strongly to the weather. It's different for consistent weather areas like Arizona," Schlude said.

Schlude added holiday seasons also spark an increase in crime due to alcohol consumption.

"Fourth of July, a lot of people drink alcohol over the holiday--its a popular celebration--we'll get an increased number of calls," she said.