When it comes to coronavirus and its impact on crime, many cities are looking at a mixed bag. Certain types of crimes are on the rise while others are falling. While there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason, the numbers actually do make sense. Criminals do what they do based on the opportunities that present themselves. Those opportunities have changed in the coronavirus era.
Take San Antonio, Texas for example. The San Antonio Express-News reported in mid-April that burglaries had increased 12.7% from the first of the year through March 27. During that same period, vehicle burglaries declined by about 8%. The number of DWI arrests have also declined.
It might be instructive to take a look at each of these three crimes and how the coronavirus pandemic might be affecting the numbers. Whatever lessons we can learn could prove valuable in preventing crime in the future.
Residential and Commercial Burglaries
Burglary is one of the most commonly committed crimes in America. According to FBI statistics, a burglary occurs every 25.7 seconds in this country, and they occur at both residential and commercial buildings. Having said that, single-family homes are most likely to be burglarized because they provide plenty of means of egress.
In terms of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems logical that residential burglaries would fall given that people are home more often. That is true, but only to a certain extent. Essential workers who leave their homes vacant during the day are just as susceptible as they ever were.
On the other hand, shuttered businesses are an open invitation to burglary. It is quite possible that the noted increase in San Antonio is linked to the shutdown in that burglars are more frequently targeting empty business properties, like restaurants and bars.
It is interesting to note that vehicle burglaries are down in San Antonio. According to Vivint Smart Home, there could be any number of reasons for this. A rise in video surveillance systems is one possible explanation. Another factor might be that more people are home for longer hours, meaning the burglars themselves are not getting out and about.
Think about the types of criminals who target parked cars. You are talking younger people out roaming around at night, looking for opportunities to score a few quick hits. This is a quite different group than the professional burglars who target homes and businesses. It is reasonable to assume that these ‘part-timers’ are staying home just like everyone else.
A reduction in DWI arrests makes complete sense in the coronavirus era. Most of us have pretty much stayed home since mid-March, going out only to buy food and medicine. Add to that the fact that bars have been closed and the reduction in DWIs is actually pretty logical.
People are not going to be driving under the influence if they aren’t driving at all. Those that continue to consume alcoholic beverages will do so at home. They are less likely to drive because they have nowhere to go. For all of the damage the pandemic has done, this is at least one bright spot.
Continue to Be Diligent
The lesson in all of this is that crime doesn’t take a break during times of crises. It simply shifts. Where some crimes are more difficult to commit than others in the coronavirus era, criminals will still look for whatever opportunities present themselves.
We all need to be more diligent in preventing crime. Whether that means installing a home security system or parking the car in the garage, every little bit helps.