What is the effect of natural disasters on crime?
In the aftermath of natural disasters, it seems as though the area of devastation goes through a period of virtual lawlessness.
But does the amount of crime after a natural disaster actually increase? Do only certain crimes increase, or is the entire thing actually lacking in any substantial evidence?
Ties between natural disaster and crime
War On The Rocks discusses the impact on crime levels due to natural disasters. Hurricane Ian serves as one of the most recent examples, in which many people lost a great deal to the hurricane itself. Others lost even more in the aftermath.
In certain respects, storms and other natural disasters do have an impact on crime in an area. In particular, theft tends to rise both before and after a natural disaster.
Other studies show that crime actually goes up in adjacent areas and not the area affected by the disaster itself. This includes not only theft, but also sex crimes of varying degrees of intensity.
Speculation about these ties
Many speculations exist toward the increase in assault, sexual crimes and other criminal activities after a natural disaster. For one, it could be due to the law enforcement spreading its resources out toward other, more immediately relevant troubles. For another, it could be a build-up of anxiety, anger, fear and other emotions due to the disaster.
Whatever the case, facing any sort of criminal charge still carries weight even in the face of other attention-grabbing issues like natural disasters. Those facing such charges must act in a way to preserve their future in the aftermath.