KEY POINTS

  • Stay home helped stifle virus and many crimes
  • Shop lifting and vehicle theft down
  • Police come keeping distance, gloved and masked

Crime rates have dropped in Seattle and nearby towns in Washington, the first U.S. state to report a COVID-19 case. While the stay-home order has led to a reduction in shoplifting, theft and car swiping, cops have suggested there is an uptick in domestic violence.

Crime reports in Seattle in the late February-early March period declined 15% from a year earlier. The drop was 30% in early to mid-March. The King County Sheriff’s Office said property crimes went down 26% in early to mid-March.

However, robberies in many shuttered businesses in Seattle have increased. Businesses in the Chinatown International District area have seen a spike in burglaries, The Seattle Times reported. Seattle police said 15 burglaries have been reported in that neighborhood in the past two weeks, compared with three during the same period last year.

It is not all good news for the police. SPD said it logged 22% more domestic violence calls in the first two weeks of March. In Renton, a small town southeast of Seattle in King County, cops have seen a slight increase in domestic violence calls since the coronavirus outbreak, Sgt. John Awai told The Seattle Times.

“All the bars are closed. They’re drinking at home. Things get verbal and heated, but not too much increase in physical stuff,” he said. Awai added the bars being closed does mean he makes a lot fewer DUI stops.

When a call comes, dispatchers ask if somebody is showing respiratory distress. The officers then know there might be COVID-19 exposure.

The police routinely wear nitrile blue gloves and have plastic safety-type glasses and N95 masks ready. They try to keep 6 feet between themselves and those they’re dealing with.

“That can be a little difficult sometimes when you have to stand behind them to put handcuffs on,” Awai said.