December 1, 2020

Covid-19 & Crime

As San Antonio and the rest of the country slowly open back up, crime rates are also beginning to rise. Nationally, overall crime is inching back up to 2019 and pre-pandemic levels. This is not a surprising statistic given how crime rates fell during the stay-at-home and social distancing orders.

Between March 16 and April 12 all but one major US city saw fewer calls for service than in 2019. There were also fewer arrests across the board, with 73% of the cities showing a decline.

For example, arrests for major crimes dropped by 66% in Boston, 61% in Miami, and 54% in Salt Lake City. On the other hand, three cities saw arrests rise in the timeframe—Grand Rapids, MI had a 20% increase, Volusia County, FL had 7% more arrests, and Atlanta, GA police slapped cuffs on 6% more offenders.

Violent Crime During the Pandemic

  • Violent crime went down in 18 of 30 major US cities, or 60%.
  • In the other 12 major US cities, violent crime went up by an average of 4.4 violent crime incidents per 100,000.
  • 73% of major US cities saw robberies go down in 2020 compared to 2019 and 57% of these cities also saw rates of aggravated assault go down.

Property Crime During the Pandemic

  • 83% of major US cities (25) saw a drop in overall property crime. 
  • On average, cities saw 48.1 fewer property crimes in 2020 versus 2019.
  • Larceny-theft—the most reported property crime—was the main driver for overall drops in property crime incidents. 93% of the cities saw a decrease in reports of larceny-theft. In 2020, there were 112 incidents reported per 100,000 versus 147 in 2019. 
  • 17 cities (57%) reported a decline in burglaries, though this was likely a major reduction in residential burglaries (most people were home 24/7) as an increase in commercial burglary was also observed as businesses were left empty for weeks.
  • Motor vehicle thefts increased in 16 cities and dropped in 13. 

San Antonio Crime Rates During the Pandemic

Crime rates in San Antonio during the stay-at-home orders mirrored national trends, with vehicle burglaries and DWI arrests down during this period. But not all crime was down. Here’s how San Antonio faired throughout the lockdown:

  • In San Antonio, burglaries increased by 12.7%, which translates to 3,019 cases from the beginning of January to the end of March, compared to last year. This increase is likely due to an increase in commercial burglaries as businesses went unoccupied during the pandemic.
  • Unsurprisingly, with all restaurants and bars closed, DWI arrests decreased between the months of March and April, from 318 last year to 147 arrests. Nonetheless, 147 DWI arrests during a period like this is still a significantly high number.
  • Family violence related calls increased 18% in March compared to the same time last year. This unfortunate increase is very likely a direct result of the stay-at-home order.

Despite overall crime rates decreasing during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, San Antonio, as noted above, still saw a spike in some categories of crime – burglaries and domestic violence – but statistics were far worse in other Texas cities likes Austin and Houston.

For San Antonio police officers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made an already dangerous job even more dangerous. Nevertheless, the community can be confident that San Antonio Police Officers will continue to do what they need to to keep us safe.

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