New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen a 75 percent increase in reports of burglaries of commercial establishments since March 12, when Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing statistics provided by the New York Police Department (NYPD).
At the same time, other indicators suggest that other criminal activity has slowed as New Yorkers heed stay-at-home orders.
Burglaries of New York City commercial establishments have increased 75 percent between March 12, and March 31. There were 254 incidents during that period compared with 145 for the same period last year.
On March 15, the city ordered restaurants and bars to cease on-site service, prompting many establishments to close or limit operations. A March 20 decree by Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the closure of all nonessential businesses.
The measures have emptied some of New York’s major shopping thoroughfares, like Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue. Some luxury shops have boarded their storefronts.
“We knew with the closing of many stores that we could see an increase and, unfortunately, we are,” said NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri.
The city’s busy urban transportation network has also seen a cutback in both passengers and services. Stations in the normally bustling city subway system, which operates 24/7, are now eerily empty.
LiPetri said break-ins of eateries, supermarkets and retail establishments are fueling a rise in commercial burglaries. Thieves are taking currency, electronics and consumables, such as food, alcohol and retail goods from businesses.
They gain entry to closed businesses by forcing open doors, breaking windows or climbing in from rooftops. Leaders of local business-improvement districts worry that boarding up storefronts could invite graffiti and potentially prompt other shop owners to do the same.
Nevertheless, reports of major felonies, such as rapes, murders and assaults, fell by nearly 20 percent from March. 12 to 31 when compared with the same period in 2019.
There was an overall 4.2 percent drop in major crime by the end of March, NYPD figures show.
Crime was still on the upswing until March 11 — with more than 600 major felonies reported — but the pandemic COVID-19 slowed most criminal activity.
Despite the steep drop off in most crimes over the second half of March as the coronavirus kept most New York City residents indoors, the decrease couldn’t wipe out the uptick from the prior weeks and months, reports the New York Post.
Crime in the Big Apple was up about 12 percent over the first three months of the year — with 2,500 more major felonies in 2020, NYPD stats show.
Among the NYPD statistics from the first quarter of 2020:
- Car thefts spiked 65.5%, from 943 to 1,561
- 685 more robberies were reported for a 25.2% increase
- Burglaries jumped by 21.9% with 533 more reported
- 486 additional grand larcenies occurred, a 5.2% uptick
- 117 more assaults were reported for a 2.6% increase