The crime rate amid COVID-19 pandemic

How the rapid spread of the virus has altered crime in some of the country's biggest cities

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Grace Walker

The spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has taken a large toll on countries around the world. However, in the past couple weeks, numbers in the US have surpassed those of any other country. We as a country now have more cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world, and this has dramatically changed the way we live our lives. The economy has been largely affected, making unemployment a more pressing issue than ever before. Social distancing guidelines have pushed people into a lifestyle in which they’ve never lived before: people are working from home, schools and universities are taking classes online, major events, competitions, and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. Major cities and densely populated areas in the US are taking the biggest hits, and while this all may seem like the end of the world, some things are starting to look up. 

The crime rate in major cities around the US is dropping as people make the effort to stay in their homes to curb the spread and flatten the curve. The NYPD said that crime in all five boroughs of New York City fell 20% between March 12 and March 31. Murders decreased by 25%, robberies by 10%, and theft is down by 37%. These decreases coincide with the lockdown placed on the state of New York. In the first half of the month of March before the lockdown, crime had increased by 28% in the city. Los Angeles also saw major drops in their crime rate. Violent crime has decreased by 11%, homicide by 43%, rape by 37%, and robbery by 14%, according to the LAPD. These decreases in California’s largest city also coincide with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s shutdown of all nonessential businesses and travel. Compared to statistics from March of 2019, violent crime in Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver has also dropped significantly. Drug related arrests in Chicago are down 42% in the weeks following the city’s mandated shutdown. 

While crimes like homicide, grand larceny, rape/sexual assault, and home break-ins are down, incidences of domestic abuse and cyber crime have increased. Houston saw a 10% increase in aggravated assaults in the past few weeks, with over half of those being domestic abuse calls. While people are forced to stay home without the escape of work or school, toxic and abusive relationships worry law enforcement and the public. Cybercrime, along with operations of the dark web are also up. A Maryland resident who was accused of operating a prescription opioid business through the dark web says business is as busy as ever. 

While the spread of COVID-19 presents the American people with fronts and obstacles the likes of which we have never faced, things continue to change. As the American people hunker down and stay inside, the world goes on, but with decreased human interactions and altercations, crime rates are dropping in some of the country’s largest and most densely populated cities, hopefully enacting change that will outlive the virus and the quarantine orders.