KEY POINTS

  • Car thefts and burglaries are up in many major US cities
  • In New York, car thefts have risen 63 percent year-to-date
  • Burglaries rose 34 percent in Denver

While social distancing and self-isolation have offered the “silver lining” of giving many communities respite from illegal activity, certain types of crimes continue to rise across many major American cities. Offenses like car thefts and robberies are spiking across many U.S. municipalities even as overall crime continues to be on the decline.

Bloomberg reports that overall crime, especially violent offenses, dropped in 10 of the 20 most populated cities, and by more than half in San Francisco alone. In certain cities, however, self-isolation and deserted streets are leading to a whole new wave of crime. In New York, for example, car thefts surged 49 percent for the week of April 12 as compared to the same period a year earlier. It's risen 53 percent over the past month and more than 63 percent year to date.

Grand theft auto was also the only type of crime to increase in Los Angeles, where it rose over 11 percent for the 28 days ending April 11 from the previous period. Burglaries have also risen in NYC, increasing over 26 percent year-to-date as compared to the same period in 2019. They rose 34 percent in Denver, where much of the burglaries attributed to break-ins at marijuana dispensaries. In Philadelphia, residential thefts were down 25 percent, but commercial break-ins of unoccupied businesses rose to 71 percent.

“It’s just a reflection of reduced opportunities for these kind of events,’’ Daniel Nagin, a criminologist and professor of public policy at the H.J. Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. “In the case of murders, these often occur in public places in bars and things like that. With those kinds of activities shut down there’s less social interaction.”

One good piece of news is that each of the 10 major cities reported steep declines in rape and sexual assault. In San Francisco, one of the first cities to implement widespread social distancing, they were down by more than 50 percent. Experts, however, advise that many of these numbers are not reliable because these crimes routinely go underreported by victims.

handcuffs-3655288_640 Representational image of a handcuff. Photo: Pixabay