The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of many law-abiding citizens as well as criminals in a drastic way. It is likely to continue to influence the pattern of organized crimes across the US. As the crisis intensified in the country, many people were hunkered down at their homes, meaning that they are less likely to experience criminal activities. Because of this, many cities reported a decline in the crime rate. In fact, police departments in some states were reportedly asking nefarious individuals to take a break during the lockdown to allow their officers to calibrate. The authorities have scaled back arrests for petty offenses to reduce the chance of exposure.
Weekly crime reports show a decline in larceny reporting
Upon examining daily crime reports from some cities in Southern California like Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, we noted a significant drop in the number of reported crimes during the period when people were staying indoors. For instance, Oakland registered a 69% drop while San Francisco saw a 55% drop in the weekly number of reported crimes.
Among all the crimes, property crime contributed to 80% of the decline. Data shows that there was a reduction in car break-ins. Experts suggest that the decline in larceny reports could be attributed to the fewer number of tourists in the Bay Area.
Some criminology experts such as Richard McCleary of the University of California-Irvine said that criminals don’t have as many opportunities during the isolation. In his assessment, crime is driven by three things: motivation, opportunity, and weak guardian. Houses are an easy target when they are empty, but with occupants indoors, they become less desirable. If the situation continues, there could be a continual drop in street crimes, burglaries, larceny, aggravated assault, and car thefts.
Of course, we can’t make any definite claims about the impact of Coronavirus from these short periods because that would be too early to conclude how things will play out. But medium- and long-term trends will most likely be affected by the virus. The coronavirus may be scary and deadly, but the reduction of crime as a result of the virus can be something that we should be grateful for. With that said, it may be too early to celebrate given that criminals have not disappeared completely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the motivation for crime might even increase.
The above findings may seem encouraging, but there are also reports of COVID affecting crime rates negatively. Some cities registered an increase in criminal activities. Los Angeles registered an increase in domestic violence reporting over the same period. Likewise, San Diego saw a rise in robbery cases.
Meanwhile, residents of New York City were not so lucky, too. While New York City is seen as the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, it looks like it is still impervious to fraud activities. In some quarters, the higher number of Covid-19 cases in the area could have served as a motivating factor for criminal activities such as break-ins and car theft. The city saw a sharp rise in these criminal acts. A 2018 study published by MIT shows that recessions or lack of activity can create career criminals.
Due to economic hardships occasioned by the pandemic, some people may also easily influence some people to partake in some criminals activities within their organizations. There is also the issue of criminals exploiting Coronavirus-related fears. They see working from home as a gateway for launching data attacks.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some employees have noted a rise in the number of spam, fraudulent emails, and phishing attempts in their corporate email addresses. According to a survey carried out by Deloitte, about half of employees working from home due to the pandemic. But what is more worrying is that 14% of them are concerned about cyber threats while working at home. Given the fact that several employees are now operating from home, it has opened doors to criminals to intercept corporate data. This could be attributed to poor infrastructural and inadequate data security mechanisms. Besides representing cyber risks to organizations, these security lapses are also hampering the productivity of work-at-home staff.
And if the worst happens, some companies may put the blame entirely on their employees. That is where employment lawyers come into their rescue. If you are ever accused of fraud or embezzlement occasioned by weak company systems, do not accept any form of injustice. These crimes are sometimes difficult to investigate, so some employers opt for the short-cut: fire an employee or illegally withheld salaries of the affected person. Thankfully, you can seek the legal services of certified criminal law specialists who can help you avoid jail and other unjustified consequences.
As it turns out, the COVID-19 pandemic has created obstacles to several criminal acts. But it has also created a door for others. So, as we move forward, how the enforcement authorities respond to these issues will affect how crime will evolve.