Surprising Ways COVID-19 Is Impacting Crime Rates in Major Cities

Surprising Ways COVID-19 Is Impacting Crime Rates in Major Cities

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As cities like New York and San Francisco issue strict “shelter-in-place” orders, it might seem like a no-brainer that crime rates are falling. After all, people can’t go outside to do crimes, right?

Well, there’s more to the story than that. Certain types of crime are trending way down–but others are heating up. Here’s what you need to know.

Most Bay Area cities report huge drop in property, violent crime

The Bay Area has been under strict shelter-in-place instructions since March 17, with citizens only allowed to leave their homes under specific circumstances. The San Francisco Police Department released crime data in the two weeks since then, and it shows major decreases in several types of crime.

Compared to this time last year, violent crime is down 31% and property crime fell almost 50%. Similar numbers are true in San Jose.

However, Oakland is showing only a dip in violent crimes but an increase in property crimes. Law enforcement officials are concerned that other crimes may be on the rise soon, especially child abuse and domestic violence. Experts also warn that the trend in Oakland might become more widespread as desperate, angry people target shuttered businesses for burglary.

Hate Crimes Surge in New York, Attempted Murder in Texas

Thanks in part to the messaging from President Trump that COVID-19 is “a Chinese virus,” hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans are on the rise in New York City. The NYPD reported 11 complaints of hate crimes against people of Asian descent. Those crimes included everything from harassment to assault.

On March 14, a 19-year-old man allegedly tried to kill an Asian-American family of three at a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas. Jose L. Gomez injured the family members as well as a store employee who intervened during the knife attack.

A document leaked to ABC News from the FBI alleged that Gomez attacked “”because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.” The FBI is treating the case as a possible hate crime. The same leaked document warns that similar crimes “will likely surge across the United States.”

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be a Boon for Organized Crime

Experts warn that the pandemic will provide organized crime the opportunity to thrive unchecked by law enforcement. Jeremy Douglas, the Regional Representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Southeast Asia, spoke to CNN about the issue.

According to Douglas, a join operation between multiple governments in Southeast Asia that targeted organized crime across their borders has fallen through because of the pandemic. The chaos and uncertainty caused by the virus has given organized criminals the opportunity to ramp up their operations. That includes drug smuggling, human trafficking, and more.

While Douglas focused on Southeast Asia, other regions are likely to experience the same upswing in organized crime.