Whenever you turn to your preferred source of news, you’re likely slammed with information about the toll COVID-19 is taking on healthcare and the economy. Everyone is happy to share information about how overrun the hospitals are, how people’s mental health is suffering, and how the economy will never recover.
What hasn’t been talked about much is the impact COVID-19 is having on the crime.
When the pandemic first struck the United States, the crime rates dropped. That has changed. Today it’s obvious that the pandemic has triggered a surge in crime, particularly homicides.
NPR reported that in 2020, there had been over 750 homicides in Chicago, that’s an increase of over 50% from the year before. Chicago wasn’t the only city where homicide rates spiked. Action police dealt with 30% more homicide investigations. The increase in New York City exceeded 40%.
Experts agree that the spike is directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Asher, who works as a data consultant, studied the crime rates in 50 major cities and concluded. “We have good data that the rise in murder was happening in the early stages of the pandemic. We have good data that the rise in murder picked up in the early stages of the summer,” Asher explained to NPR, “and we also have good data that the rise of murder picked up again in September and October as some of the financial assistance started to wear off.”
Not everyone agrees that economic struggles are the sole reason homicide rates are climbing.
“It’s clearly related, in part, to the coronavirus and to the fact that people are cooped up,” New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio hypothesized. “And it’s certainly related to the fact that the criminal justice system is on pause and that’s causing a lot of problems.”
COVID-19 didn’t simply result in a spike in homicides. Experts have noted that other types of crimes have also risen sharply since the pandemic.
Data collected by the COVID-19 Council revealed that:
- Aggravated assault cases jumped 6%.
- Domestic violence reports increased at the start of the pandemic.
- Gun assault charges increased by 8%.
- Robbery reports spiked by 9%.
- There were 30% more drug-related offenses.
- Vehicle theft increased by 13%.
While these numbers are bleak, it isn’t all bad news:
- Non-residential burglary decreased by 7%.
- Residential burglary decreased by a staggering 24%.
- Drug-related offenses dropped 30%.
Hopefully, the pandemic will end soon and life, as well as crime rates, will return to normal.