Old Man Winter might be the ultimate crime fighter.
Homicides and other major crimes in the city have dropped by a whopping 34 percent so far this year, compared with the same period last year, thanks in part to the record-breaking amounts of snow, community activists and police say.
“The snow has an immobilizing effect on the neighborhood,” said the Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, associate pastor of the Twelfth Baptist Church and a community activist in Roxbury. “Everything stopped. Crime stopped.”
According to the National Weather Service, 77.3 inches of snow had fallen on Boston as of Tuesday afternoon, and forecasters say more is on the way.
“I hope it snows every day!” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans quipped at a City Hall news conference Monday in response to questions about crime levels following the back-to-back-to-back snowstorms.
Vehicle theft decreased by 46 percent, larceny by 35 percent, and burglaries by 32 percent, according to data provided by the Boston Police Department.
“It has helped,” Evans told the Globe Tuesday over the phone. “There are less people out. You’re going to have less robberies and burglaries.”
But Evans said the drop in crime began before the heavy snowfall, and cited “good police work,” cooperation with community leaders, and efforts to quash gang violence.
Though shootings have risen to 25 this year, compared with 19 at this time last year, homicides are down, Evans said.
Last year, the city saw 10 homicides from Jan. 1 to Feb. 8, compared with three this year, according to figures provided by police officials.
The 10 homicides at the beginning of 2014 was an unusually high number, officials said, and resulted largely from gang violence.
This year, Evans said, “we nipped it in the bud” by targeting hot spots.
Still, he acknowledged that the weather had played a role. So did 24-year-old Kendrick Jackson of Dorchester, who runs Beantown Bulls, a basketball program for at-risk teens.
“This time last year, it was insane,” he said. “There were a lot of robberies and homicides.”
As of Tuesday evening, the last homicide known to police occurred Jan. 26, the day the first blizzard hit, covering the city in 2 feet of snow. Snowplow operators discovered the body of 28-year-old Charles Floyd on Shetland Street in Roxbury. The father of two and budding rap artist was stabbed to death, police said.
Emmett Folgert, founder of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, which mentors at-risk youth, said violence often declines during inclement weather.
“Weather is our best friend,” he said. “We long for it. We’re just praying to God for bad weather.”
The cold weather, coupled with the snow, deters loitering and on-street drug sales that could lead to shootings, experts said, but they warn that the correlation isn’t as cut and dried as it might seem.
“The truth is crime has a life of its own,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor, and a former police officer and prosecutor, noting New York City had a spike in shootings, despite bad weather.
Murders in New York City were up 18 percent citywide in January, compared with a year earlier, while shootings had jumped by 28 percent, the New York Daily News reported.
But the “dogma” among patrol cops is that “Jack Frost is the best policeman,” O’Donnell said. “The idea is ‘gosh it’s too cold to do a robbery or to congregate.’ ”
But others say that young people making the right choices, rather than 6 feet of snow, deserve credit for the drop in crime.
“They are making decisions not to do this,” said Rufus Faulk, program director at the Boston TenPoint Coalition.
“If we provide more options, they’d be more likely to leave risky behaviors behind.”
Some say the lull in crime provides an opportunity to address outstanding issues that lead to violence.
“The drop in crime shouldn’t be a drop in vigilance to address crime in our community and provide serious services to those who are at highest risk,” said Brown.
“The spring is coming, summer is coming, and snow removal is happening now,” Brown added. “We have to keep our eyes open, our ear open to what’s happening.”