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POLICE ACTIVITY AND THE FULL MOON

NCJ Number
61880
Journal
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: (SEPTEMBER 1979) Pages: 350-353
Author(s)
P P PURPURA
Date Published
1979
Length
4 pages
Annotation
GREATER POLICE ACTIVITY INVOLVING BREAKING AND ENTERING DURING THE FULL MOON SUGGESTS THAT BRIGHT LIGHT MAY ACT AS A DETERRENT FOR MOST FORMS OF CRIME, BUT THAT DIM (MOON-) LIGHT MAY ENCOURAGE SOME KINDS OF CRIME.
Abstract
TWO HYPOTHESES WERE THAT: (1) A RELATIONSHIP EXISTS BETWEEN THE FULL MOON AND THE AMOUNT OF POLICE ACTIVITY (CALLS FOR POLICE SERVICE) AND (2) THERE IS GREATER POLICE ACTIVITY DURING THE FULL MOON. POLICE ACTIVITY (TYPES AND AMOUNTS OF CALLS FOR POLICE SERVICE) WAS STUDIED IN THREE MEDIUM-SIZE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. THE RESEARCH CONSISTED OF A MONTH-BY-MONTH ANALYSIS OF POLICE ACTIVITY AT EACH AGENCY. A TOTAL OF 59 MONTHS AND 972 POLICE SHIFTS WERE ANALYZED. POLICE CALLS WERE STUDIED BY CLASSIFICATION: DOMESTIC, ASSAULT, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, DRUNKENNESS, ROBBERY, BREAKING AND ENTERING, LARCENY, AND SHOPLIFTING. RESULTS OF THE DATA ANALYSIS REVEALED THAT POLICE ACTIVITY INVOLVING POLICE CALLS WAS NOT SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER DURING EITHER THE FULL-MOON PHASE OR THE NON-FULL-MOON PHASE. RESULTS THUS DID NOT SUPPORT THE FIRST HYPOTHESES. IT WAS FOUND, HOWEVER, THAT THERE IS MORE POLICE ACTIVITY INVOLVING BREAKING AND ENTERING DURING A FULL MOON, SUGGESTING THAT THE MOONLIGHT GIVES AN OFFENDER THE LIGHT NECESSARY TO BREAK AND ENTER. ALTHOUGH BRIGHT LIGHT MAY BE A DETERRENT TO CRIME, DIM LIGHT (SUCH AS MOONLIGHT) MAY INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD FOR CRIME. FURTHER RESEARCH IS NECESSARY TO EXPLORE THIS POSSIBILITY. TABULAR DATA ARE INCLUDED WITH FOOTNOTES. (MJW)