Crime

Post-COVID Lockdowns, Early Big City Crime Stats Are Slightly Encouraging

Early COVID lockdown effects show no significant increases in most crime. In most cases, there were drops.

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Contemplating a world in which huge swaths of people were suddenly without legal means to feed themselves or pay rent, some feared that crime statistics might turn ugly in America.

But crime stats from America's 10 largest population cities, at least for those that have made data from April or later publicly available, are tentatively encouraging. While some dark times for out of work Americans regarding their rents and mortgages still loom, sudden mass unemployment did not appear to lead to an uptick in all crimes across major American metros.

For the month of April, the first full month of shutdowns, New York's "major index crime" saw a "-28.5 percent decrease (5,121 v. 7,162) when compared to the same period in 2019," according to data collected by the New York Police Department. In April, "overall crime fell in every borough, within the transit system and across public housing."

Crime did not fall across all categories, however, which might be an effect of the shutdown. "Murder, auto theft, and burglary all increased," with commercial burglaries in April seeing a very depressing 169 percent increase over last April—564 v. 210. On the bright side, robberies, grand larcenies, and felony assaults all dived compared to 2019—26 percent, 52 percent, and 32 percent respectively.

The city's press release notes that "particularly hard hit are small merchants, bodegas, and restaurants that are already enduring difficulties amid this public health crisis. These crimes are organized, occurring amid the ongoing emergency measures that have seen stores shuttered, and perpetrators are targeting those already vulnerable businesses."

Los Angeles, number two in population, has released crime stats through the end of May. That city also saw year-to-date crime rates dive in most categories. Robbery is down 17.6 percent, aggravated assaults are down 2.1 percent, rape is down 23.3 percent, and burglary is down 9.2 percent. However, L.A. crime stats are not all good news: year-to-date homicides are up nearly 5 percent, and motor vehicle theft is up 19.6 percent compared to 2019.

Chicago, America's third-largest city, has also seen year-to-date crime numbers dive through May 24 compared to 2019 in all the categories except murder, which is up 14 percent. But other categories have seen drops in numbers compared to 2019, including burglary (down 17 percent), theft (down 24 percent), robbery (down 1 percent), criminal sexual assault (down 16 percent), and motor vehicle theft (down 7 percent).

Not every city in America's top 10 has yet released user-friendly crime comparisons between this time last year and the months that cover COVID-19 restrictions. Among other of such big cities that have, Philadelphia, America's sixth-largest city, has crime stats up through June 6, which means that city has also incorporated offenses related to the George Floyd protests and riots. That said, year-to-date crime number comparisons with the same period in 2019 have shown declines in rape (down 22.9 percent), theft from persons (down 21.4 percent), and robbery without a gun (down 11 percent).

Murder in the city of brotherly love, though, is up 19.4 percent compared to 2019, theft of motor vehicles up 23.2 percent, and commercial burglary is up a staggering 223.9 percent. (Note, again, that Philly's figures are far more up to date and incorporate the protest and riot period, unlike many of the other figures above.)

Dallas, America's ninth highest-population city, released figures through the end of May. Dallas is a mixed bag compared to 2019. Overall assault offenses are up 2.9 percent, but overall homicide is down 18.4 percent and forcible sex offenses are down 14.3 percent. Looking just at property crimes, larceny/theft offenses overall are down nearly 4 percent compared to the same period in 2019, and robbery overall is down 22.6 percent. Arson, though, is up over 10 percent and business burglaries are up 6.7 percent.

San Jose, California, America's 10th largest population city, only has figures released through the end of April, which includes just the first full month of COVID-19 shutdowns. But crime had fallen across the board in every reported category compared to that same period in 2019, including a 14.4 percent drop in robbery, 7.1 percent drop in burglary, 10.7 percent drop in rape, 27.3 percent drop in homicide, and 17.6 percent drop in vehicle theft.

Caveats abound: Not all of these high-population cities have public crime statistics covering more than one full month of lockdown effects; only a few datasets reflected the recent urban protests and rioting; in some cases numbers will be readjusted later; etc., etc. However, these cities are seeing interestingly and perhaps surprisingly decent crime results, at least so far, for a country under very unusual stress.

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  1. Swaths of businesses were burned and looted. Crime was unchanged somehow.

    1. Who you gonna believe, these compelling statistics, or your own lying eyes?

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    2. Who knew that all we’ve needed to do this whole time was to stop calling theft, assault, arson and destruction of private property a crime! I’ll bet Guilliani feels like a real asshoe right about now.

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    3. Most of the cities reporting stops just before the rioting and looting. Lying with statistics, or just a convenient month break – in this case I’m inclined towards not assuming malice. June stats should look pretty bad.

    4. exactly this idea that crime is down is plain and simply horse pucky

  2. There’s a ton of stupid shit stacking up all at once.

    It’s like people saw what a grand success the sweeping lockdowns were in forcing people to conform, and now everyone wants to make big sweeping changes that are just as poorly thought out. NASCAR is banning confederate flags. Which is completely within their right but it honestly has shit and fuck-all to do with the issue of police brutality and is going to alienate a huge portion of their fanbase.

    People are also trying to rename every single military base that is named after a Confederate general, even though those names are so well established that it hardly matters.

    This is all stacking on top of movements to completely abolish the police in Minneapolis. Because they never actually tried any reasonable reforms, they can’t think of any reforms that would help their policing, so they’re going to try to abolish the department. When they need to enforce their city taxes and their parking codes and whatever petty little policies they put in place, though, they’ll just make a new department that does the exact same shit, having learned zero lessons.

    Nobody has any sense of actually handling things with some appropriate sense of scale. Go big, change everything, and throw as much pork into your bills. Take over downtown Seattle while you’re at it (really, go have a ball kids. But you made this choice yourself and you can’t come home, we’re changing the locks).

    1. The reason #MeToo was such a disaster for the left was that conservatives were happy to feed them the flesh of the souls on which the leftists dined. They happily trolled through old comments and photos and served up elite members of the left that the mob consumed with religious fervor. Republicans could have easily defended Al Franken and a couple of others based on generally conservative principles of Due Process and Innocent until proven guilty, but the right correctly decided not to get in the middle of that during Me Too.

      It should have been easy for conservatives to do the same as the Floyd protests kicked off and turned to Riots. Other than Oklahoma City, pretty much every state with a consistent record of police abuse has been Democrat-run for decades. Conservatives should have been consistently serving up the likes of Kamala Harris, Kloubachar and others.

      Unfortunately, the right decided now was the time to stick with Law and Order and the police unions, rather than let the left do for them what they have been unable to do for decades. It is a real bummer.

      1. I think the antagonism coming from the left makes some of the response from Republicans rational. They’re insisting that all Republicans must be racists and they’ll continue to do so no matter what position Republicans take on police reform. They also call the police racist. The left, the shouting voice, drew the lines and put them both in the same camp.

        This is an issue where you SHOULD be able to pull together a broad case. 99.5% of the population of this country thinks what happened to George Floyd was a travesty, and it’s a chance to draw in some more if you point out that this shit happened to Daniel Shaver and Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor and Dennis Tuttle. It shouldn’t be hard to convince people of the need for reforms when you point out the issues-there’s enough support across party lines to create a veto-proof majority. But with calls to abolish police, #defundpolice, and a major shift of focus to make it a racial issue, it’s shoving a huge wedge into what should be an EASY coalition.

        That’s not to reduce the blame on Republicans-the Senate bill that’s been introduced looks completely spineless and they really need to do more. But it makes me distraught that where was a chance for an agenda to have near universal appeal and it quickly got chopped into political battle lines.

      2. There’s a whole lot of ball fumbling going on for both major parties right now, but you’re right, the right is going to waste this turnover in the red zone.

  3. No chance at all that crime went down because all the potential victims were hiding under their beds?

  4. It will be interesting to watch these stats in the coming months. Hopefully they will drop.

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