Coronavirus-hit New York slammed by crime wave

With the coronavirus outbreak, most people are forced to stay home and practice social distancing to avoid spreading the disease. But some criminals are seeing this as a prime opportunity.

In general, the crime rate in New York did see an increase since the start of 2020.

Why was the crime rate up in February?

New York City saw an uptick in crime in February compared to February 2019. In February, the New York City crime index saw an overall 22.5% increase compared to the same month last year. While there was a 20% decrease in the number of murders (20 this year compared to 25 last year), there was a 7.1% increase in shooting incidents (45 versus 42).  Robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto also all saw increases.

Experts and the NYPD have blamed the uptick on New York’s bail-reform law, according to the New York Post. Experts believe the rise in crime is a lingering symptom of the New York state bail-system overhaul, which went into effect on January 1. The new law prohibits pretrial detention in most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies. It also takes away judicial discretion.

In the first week of March, crime in the seven index categories (murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto) was up 26% from the same week in 2019, but that rate was not far off from 2020’s overall 20% surge, which was blamed on the bail-reform plague.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected the crime rate in New York?

In the second week of March, from March 8 to 15, as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in New York, closing schools, restaurants, and more, the crime rate sparked 9% compared to the same week in 2019, which was a significant improvement from the 26% increase from the week before.

But between, March 16 to 22, when New York implemented its shutdown, city-wide crime dropped 16.65% compared to the same time period in 2019, according to the NYPD crime statistics report.

The total number of crimes during this period in 2019 was 1,604, compared to 1,337 in 2020, but not all of the seven major crime categories saw decreases.

Decreases from March 16 to 22:

  • Murder dropped 85.7%
  • Rape dropped 68.8%
  • Felonious assault dropped 8.9%
  • Burglary dropped 0.6%
  • Grand larceny dropped 31.3%.

Increases from March 16 to 22:

  • Grand larceny auto increased 51.5%
  • Robbery increased 2.4%,

“I think these serious crime numbers are starting to decline considerably with fewer people on the streets, fewer commuters going to work, more people working remotely, school closures, nearly empty transit systems,” Christopher Herrmann, a former NYPD crime analyst and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The Post.

Crime statistics for the last week of March have not yet been released.

Will crime continue to drop?

Experts predict that while some crimes are likely to decrease for as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues, others are likely to rise.

Meagan Cahill, a senior policy researcher in criminology at the Rand Corporation, told U.S. News that she expects offenses such as robberies, aggravated assaults and bar fights to decrease because the public is unable to go out while social distancing policies remain in place.

Cahill predicts that burglaries will decline dramatically because a majority of burglaries happen when homes are empty. With roughly three out of four Americans are under instructions to stay home, the opportunity for burglaries to happen is dramatically decreased.

Due to businesses being told to close, experts are torn over whether break-ins or vandalism will affect small businesses. But they do believe that online fraud will increase by way of offerring financial help or coronavirus-related schemes.

Domestic violence is also expected to increase due to the stay-home policies.