COVID-19 ISO Insights

Business Burglaries, Car Thefts Increase During COVID-19 Crisis

August 3, 2020

By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU

The Pandemic May Be Causing a Drop in Overall Crime Rates

NPR has reported that, with a drop in general activities such as commuting, driving, and walking in communities during the COVID-19 crisis, there has also been a dramatic drop in crime in more than 25 cities in the U.S; however this reduction has not been observed in all categories of crimes.

For example, crime has reportedly slowed in cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore by over 30%, including in the aggravated assault and robbery categories.

According to a related New York Times article, "[o]verall crime is down 5.3 percent in 25 large American cities relative to the same period in 2019, with violent crime down 2 percent." The Times created a spreadsheet that collected data on 25 cities larger than 250,000 people available here.

Not Necessarily the Case For Homicides and Shootings

There has reportedly been a rise homicides and shootings in some cities during the crisis compared to last year at the same time.  However, per NPR, even though the numbers may be higher than last year, some experts point out that when the data for the cities is examined over a five-year period, the increase is not significant enough to suggest the crisis is having an effect on the rate of homicides and shootings.

Homicides reportedly account for about one percent of crimes in the cities analyzed by the Times, and are obviously devastating to victims, friends, families and communities.

Regarding shootings at the national level, we recently posted that nearly 2,100 Americans died due to gun violence between March 1st and April 19th, a 6% higher rate than the same period in the past three years.

And Not For Burglaries and Car Theft Either

Per NPR, drug-related crimes have decreased by over 60% compared with data from past years. However, commercial space burglaries have reportedly increased by up to 30% in some cities. Additionally, car thefts have also increased in Denver, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas and Philadelphia.

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that car thefts have been increasing because more cars are left parked and unwatched for longer times, potentially because there are fewer pedestrians on streets and less commuting.  For crime statistics and interactive charts relating to 26 U.S. cities, provided by the University of Pennsylvania, click here.

As cities reopen, the same expert reportedly expects burglary and car theft rates to drop due to increased use.