Stay-at-home orders during the Coronavirus outbreak not only protect people from infection or spreading the virus, but they have other unintended consequences such as a lower crime rate. New York City, one of the areas that has been most affected by the disease, has seen the number of felonies drop by 16% in March. Major cities have also reported a drop in other crimes like assault, murder, traffic violations, and burglaries. Stay at home orders force the population to remain home, this includes potential criminals who can’t go out or have fewer targets out on the street.
However, a drop in some types of crimes doesn’t mean that there are no criminal acts being committed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Other offenses such as domestic violence have been on the rise, as people are confined to their home tensions may rise during these complicated times. Telephone and online fraud schemes are also increasing, fraudsters take advantage of people’s vulnerable status to gain access to private accounts and information.
Other crimes on the rise during the Coronavirus outbreak include:
Police departments across the country have reported an increase in the number of domestic violence calls coming in. This increase can be attributed to escalating tension in a home due to job loss, financial hardship, or the stress of being unable to leave your home. Domestic abuse doesn’t necessarily have to be between a couple, according to Glendale domestic violence lawyer John Phebus, domestic violence includes physical abuse or disorderly conduct with a parent, brother, sister, close relative, or even a roommate. We are living in an unprecedented time and any added stress to an already dangerous family dynamic could increase the risk of domestic abuse in that household.
With the government-mandated stay at home orders, more people are doing their shopping online and having groceries and other goods delivered to their home. Delivery truck drivers are being instructed to leave packages and avoid touching doorknobs, gate latches, or other surfaces in order to avoid the spread of the virus. This means that packages may be left in exposed places where it’s easy for porch pirates to steal them. The police department in Los Angeles has reported an instance where a porch pirate is seen in video footage following the delivery truck and stealing the package that they had just delivered. Protect your packages from being stolen by installing a camera on your front door, be aware of the time when a package will be delivered, or have them delivered to a secure locker or pickup location.
Fraud and Online Scams
With more people at home checking their emails and phones regularly, it’s easy for online and phone scammers to be active during these times. Recently there have been reports of scammers selling fake COVID-19 tests, medication to cure it, financial assistance in the form of loans, phishing emails or scammers posing as insurance agents offering travel insurance to reimburse for lost travel expenses. People are scared about a possible infection or worried about their finances, scammers take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities and use them to gain access to personal and financial information or get them to purchase non-existent products or services. According to criminal defense attorney Mark Treyz, fraud is a serious offense that can result in high fines and jail time.
Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close, these vacant businesses are an easy target for vandalism and burglaries. According to local news sources in Portland, Oregon, several businesses have suffered break-ins and owners are boarding up their shops to prevent more destruction to their property. Businesses in San Francisco with expensive merchandise on display are also boarding up their windows and doors. A local construction company estimates they have boarded about twenty to thirty businesses in two weeks. As businesses remain closed there is a higher chance of burglaries and vandalism.
There are fewer officers on duty during Coronavirus due to quarantine efforts, but this doesn’t mean that there are no arrests. If you have witnessed or been the victim of a crime during quarantine, don’t hesitate in calling your local police department and reporting it to the authorities. There are police officers still on duty who can help you or a loved one.