Although crime is down nationally, Las Vegas is seeing a spike in shootings, robberies, and assault. Compared to last year, violent crime is up 4% on the strip. That might not seem like a major increase, but considering that crime has been trending down during the pandemic, it’s surprising.
Las Vegas police have a theory about why crime–especially aggravated assault–is on the rise.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo talked to USA Today about the crime spike. He sees it as a symptom of the ongoing pandemic:
“Bad behavior, anxiety, unemployment, the inability to blow off steam is causing a lot of this to occur. Our nightclubs are closed, all our live entertainment is closed. There’s not a lot of release occurring not just in our jurisdiction but in Los Angeles and Phoenix and San Diego, where a majority of our visitors come from. They’re in lockdown more than we are.”
However, one specific–albeit indirect–consequence of the pandemic could be driving the uptick in crime. Hotel rooms are dirt cheap right now. Ever since the Strip reopened–with social distancing and limited capacity–in June, Vegas businesses have been desperate to attract visitors. The economy relies almost entirely on tourism; without tourists, the entire system collapses.
“We are seeing an increase in crime or the presence of crime on Las Vegas Boulevard — in particular, through the Strip — and I think part of that might be lowering the room rates,” Sheriff Lombardo said. “The type of customer that is showing up … they’re more interested in creating chaos than entertaining themselves or engaging themselves.”
Just this weekend, Las Vegas PD made more than 80 arrests on the strip. On October 11th, a drug deal gone bad on the Miracle Mile ended with a shooting. According to the police report, two men approached a third for a “narcotics transaction.” The deal turned into a fight, and one of the men shot another of the trio in the leg.
The suspects fled the scene north on the Strip. The shooting victim was treated for the injury, which officers say is not life-threatening. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the department. To report a tip anonymously call Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555.
The shooting was just one of the violent crimes that took place recently in Las Vegas. In response, some of the hotels on the strip have stepped up security in order to protect their guests.
On Monday, MGM’s spokesperson said: “We have a highly trained security team that closely monitors occupancy and evaluates security staffing levels on a weekly basis. We work closely with Metro as they work diligently to reduce crime both on the Strip and off and are constantly evolving our security policies and procedures. We don’t believe that recent high-profile incidents are reflective of Las Vegas and the safety of our properties on the Strip.”