- COVID-19 transformed crime, resulting in dips in some crimes and surges in others.
- Across the globe, the onset of the pandemic saw a drop in the overall crime as mobility decreased and countries implemented lockdowns.
- However, the figures mask increased crimes like homicides, aggravated gun assaults, and domestic violence.
- Even as property and drug-related crimes decreased, there was an increase in motor vehicle theft, commercial burglaries, the black market, and cybercrimes.
According to statistics from the U.S., overall property crimes, robberies and rapes are some of the crimes that dropped dramatically because of the conditions created by the pandemic, especially the stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Here are the crimes that surged and some of the reasons for this.
Homicides and aggravated gun assaults
From the summer of 2020, substantial increases in homicides and shootings were reported across the U.S. According to most experts, it isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact factors for the increase.
In some large cities, the rise may be associated with crimes related to drugs and gangs not deterred by stay-at-home orders. More research is needed before a conclusion is reached, but changes in policing and changes to status quos in some areas may have led to violent turf wars.
The beginning of the spark in some violent crimes in some U.S. cities also coincided with protests to kill George Floyd by police. These protests started in the summer of 2020 and continued into the fall. This was when other violent crimes in the U.S., including robberies, were at their lowest for many years.
Motor vehicle theft and commercial burglaries
Reduced mobility during the pandemic led to more people spending huge amounts of time at home. Residential burglaries declined, but non-residential buildings were left more vulnerable, and burglaries increased.
During the pandemic, most people used their cars far less than usual. With many cars left unattended and parked on the streets, car thefts increased in the U.S. One example of a city with increased car theft was Philadelphia, where the rates shot up over 2.5 times than before.
Domestic violence tends to be an under-reported crime. Unfortunately, charities reported escalating domestic violence around the globe, both during the lockdown and immediately after.
Increases in domestic violence were reported in the U.S. too. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the trends from as early as March 2020 were alarming when schools started closing. Increases reported were as much as 27% in Jefferson, Alabama, 22% in Portland, Oregon, and 10% in New York.
Domestic abuse has dragged on with the pandemic. Moreover, it is not just women in heterosexual relationships but also in same-sex couples, often at higher rates. One of the main reasons for these figures in the LGBTQ community is work-related stress.
According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, same-sex couples are employed in those industries highly affected by the pandemic, like hospitals, restaurants, and education. They are likely to suffer higher stress levels, increasing the risk of stress-related temper explosions.
Communities of color are always affected more severely by many things, domestic violence included. The factors contributing to the stress and violence included inequities that cause them to bring home a lower income.
These communities also have less access to services, both private and social. Erika Sussman, executive director of the support and research organization Center for Survivor Advocacy, recently told Time.com: “During the pandemic, one in three white women report having experienced domestic violence, however, the rates increased to 50% and more for those marginalized by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, and cognitive, physical ability.”
By the first quarter of 2020, the United Nations reported an increase of 350% in cybercrimes. This indicates the speed with which cybercriminals reacted to the situation. According to Interpol, cybercrime shifted from individuals and small businesses, the usual targets, to critical infrastructure, governments, and major corporations.
Remote systems for staff working from home increased the possibility of security vulnerabilities, making it easier for cybercriminals to cause disruptions, steal information, and make money.
Their methods included online scams, phishing, disruptive malware, data harvesting malware, and the use of malicious domains.
Anxiety among communities has also increased because of fake news and misinformation. This information is often linked to scams, including too good to be true offers and fraudulent potions to prevent or cure the virus.
The dark web embraced new illegal markets with a roaring trade from early during the pandemic in PPE. Before the Covid-19 vaccine was released, people could purchase “vaccines” online, initially for $200 and prices shooting to thousands of dollars. Nobody knows if these were homemade concoctions, water, or even stolen vaccines.