These Are the Most Common Crimes Over the Holidays
Everything from arson to shoplifting peaks during the holiday season.
The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, giving gifts, and taking a well-deserved break from the stresses of your everyday life. However, year after year, there's a dark side to the most wonderful time of the year: an uptick in criminal behavior. If you want to stay safe this season, read on to discover the most common holiday crimes.
It's not just dry Christmas trees and unattended candles contributing to fires during the holiday season—arson tends to spike around the holidays, as well. In fact, according to a 2005 report from FEMA, incendiary or suspicious fires are the most common cause of structure fires during the winter. So, just how common is arson during the holidays? Believe it or not, the National Fire Protection Association reports that, between 2013 and 2017, 21 percent of Christmas tree fires were set intentionally.
Trying to get that perfect gift for someone—or just seeing an opportunity to blend in among busy holiday crowds—means a rise in shoplifting over the holidays. According to a report from the Urban Institute, shoplifting tends to increase during the holiday season. New Year's Day is the third most common holiday for reports of theft, after Veteran's Day and Labor Day, according to a 2003 report published in the Journal of Criminal Justice.
You might want to keep an eye on those high-ticket items once you've left the store, because robbery—which is distinguished from burglary because it involves taking something from another person through force or fear—tends to peak during the holiday season. While Christmas and Thanksgiving have the lowest and second-lowest robbery rates of any holiday, New Year's Day has the highest ones, according to the same 2003 report in the Journal of Criminal Justice.
The good news is that statistics show that you're less likely to be a victim of assault on Christmas or Thanksgiving than on any other major holiday. The bad news is that the same can't be said for New Year's Day, which has the highest incidence of assault of any holiday, according to the 2003 Journal of Criminal Justice report. In fact, winter has the second highest rates of assault on the whole, trailing only summer, according to a 2014 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Whether it's a few glasses of champagne at a work gathering or some eggnog at your family's Christmas party, there's no denying that the winter holidays are frequently booze-soaked occasions. Consequently, the rate of DUIs during this period tends to spike, too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2013 and 2017, more than 800 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making it one of the most dangerous holidays on the road.
In total, 1,519 people were killed on the roads on Thanksgiving and during the week between Christmas and New Year's in 2018—2.5 times as many fatal accidents as Labor Day and the Fourth of July combined.
Unfortunately, violent crime tends to be closer to home during the holidays, as well. According to the 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, between 1993 and 2010, after summer (when there tends to be an uptick in virtually every type of crime), winter had the highest rates of intimate partner violence—nearly double the rate of assaults compared to springtime during the 17-year study period.
So much for those resolutions. While Christmas has the lowest rate of disorderly conduct of any major holiday, the crime—which can include everything from public intoxication to loitering to causing a public disturbance—spikes on New Year's Day, according to the 2003 Journal of Criminal Justice report.
With more people spending money online during the holiday season, it should come as little surprise that this time of year is also associated with a higher incidence of identity theft, too. According to a 2018 report from electronic payment and banking company ACI Worldwide, fraud attempts spike approximately 14 percent between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday alone.