Nobody has compiled cold, hard numbers, but local police say it wasn’t only temperatures that dropped during the recent ice storm — crime dropped too.
“Law enforcement agencies do experience a decrease in crimes due to cold weather,” Thibodaux Police spokesman David Melancon said. “I don’t have any exact numbers, but traditionally when the weather is bad, people go inside. Criminals are people, too, so they tend to stay inside as well.”
“Crime doesn’t come to a halt during cold weather, but it does slow down,” Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said. “Thieves, their hands get cold, and they’re scared of falling into cold water, so they tend to stay home.”
With temperatures sinking to lows in the high 20s between Jan. 28 and 30, National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Revitte said southeast Louisiana has seen its coldest winter since 1985. Freezing temperatures with wind chills in the teens, sleet and snow flurries shut down many local bridges and prompted schools, government offices and many businesses to shut down for two days across Terrebonne, Lafourche and surrounding parishes.
Potential criminals may have been deterred by roads closed during the storm, officials said.
“When we had to call the curfew in Lafourche, we really had a lot of compliance,” Lafourche Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brennan Matherne said. “When we had the dangerous road conditions, most people recognized that and stayed home and off the roadway.”
Though freezing temperatures may have discouraged certain illegal activity, officials said crimes involving drugs are just as likely to happen during cold weather as they are any other time.
“If you’re a drug addict, you’re still going to go find your drugs. If you’re a drug dealer, you’re still going to sell your drugs,” Larpenter said. “The cold isn’t going to stop them.”