The Most Common Times That Crimes Occur Nationwide

On average most crimes occur in the afternoon and early evening between 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM.

By Tori Hook | Published

organized retail crimes walmart store theft

Our cultural image of crime is usually associated with nighttime; we might picture a masked intruder breaking and entering, or someone lurking around a dark corner as you walk down the street. Vivint, a home security company, wanted to know if the stereotypes were true, if crime really does happen more at night. They launched a study, analyzing 1.3 million crimes across 13 major cities over the course of 2022, and what they found afterward might surprise and help you keep yourself and your family safer.

It’s true that crime rates across the surveyed metropolitan areas spiked at midnight, with 6 percent of overall crime occurring at the midnight hour, but crime overall was actually at its lowest between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. According to Vivint, most of the cities experienced the highest spike in crime rates in the late afternoon and evening, usually between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, which might come as a shock to those who put so much effort into protecting their homes late at night. In Philadelphia, crime rates dropped by as much as 66 percent after 8:00 p.m.

The times at which crimes are committed, though, are largely dependent upon the type of crime, so it’s no surprise that these times vary. Most types of crimes aligned with overall crime peaks in cities; that is, between 4:00 pm and 7:00 p.m. Exceptions to this rule included theft, fraud, and harassment, which were more likely to occur between 12:00 pm and 3:00pm, and arson and sexual assault, which were more likely to occur between midnight and 3:00 a.m.

While most crimes happen during the day, more violent crimes often happen at night, which is likely why the public associates crime with night and darkness. When we think of the crimes we most need to protect ourselves against, we usually think of violent crimes such as burglary, murder, and sexual assault, all of which are more likely to occur late at night or in the very early hours of the morning. While the data collected might point you toward needing to lock your doors during the day as well as at night, there’s ample evidence and reason to be cautious and safe at night, too.

Whether you live in a house or an apartment, in a major city, or in a rural area, there are things you can do to protect yourself against both daytime and nighttime crimes. Firstly, keep all doors and windows locked at all times; many criminals will choose an unlocked door or window over a locked one for ease of entry. Many people also hide keys somewhere outside their doors in case of emergency. Vivint strongly advises against this, encouraging people to opt for a smart lock instead. Burglars are experts and know exactly where to look for hidden keys.

Motion-controlled lighting can also be a strong deterrent against criminals, as it can trick intruders into thinking someone is at home and awake, even if you’re not. If you have a garage, keep it closed; garages in general provide little to no security, so you’ll want to keep the door from the garage into the house locked, as well. Whatever measures you take to protect yourself and your home, make sure you’re taking them during the day as well as at night.