Crime rates have fluctuated wildly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Seattle Times, the Seattle Police Department said that crime reports declined 15 percent from late February to early March compared with last year. Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, SPD spokesperson said, “This is not surprising, considering the reduction of people out and about.”

Many types of crimes decreased.

Property crimes, particularly against private residences, were down in many locations nationwide. A downturn in violent crimes was short-lived as rates of some types of crime again spiked weeks later. The rates of violent crimes are returning to normal, particularly in cities and areas with high rates of gun violence and drugs.

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the rise in crime.

King County’s announcement that jails would not accept people brought in for many types of misdemeanors left a gaping opportunity for a crime spree, for example and the number of certain crimes did indeed rise.

The national crime and safety trends website, SafeWise, notes that Seattle had 32 more burglaries per 100,000 people between March 16 and April 12 than in the same period in 2019, for example. Overall, Seattle has seen 21 percent more burglaries than in previous years. In fact, one city precinct saw an 87 percent jump in burglaries in March, even as businesses shuttered their doors due to the pandemic.

Other types of crime also seem to be growing more common during the age of social distancing.

These crimes include:

  • Package theft
  • Drug use/opioid abuse
  • Speeding
  • Assault on medical workers and law enforcement
  • Defying stay-at-home orders, restrictions on public gatherings, and other public health measures intended to control the spread of coronavirus

Other types of crimes are popping up.

The Seattle Police Department recently announced a spike in widespread fraud campaign in which criminals are using stolen identities to file false unemployment claims. Many victims find out when they receive notification that a claim has been filed on their behalf, even though the victims have not filed unemployment claims.

The COVID-19 outbreak, its effects on crime, and its impact on the social justice system could have lasting impacts for citizens, law enforcement, the legal system, and for those accused of crimes. Anyone in Seattle facing criminal charges but not currently in custody will probably not get a hearing anytime soon. When a hearing does happen, it may be rushed; this may put defendants in danger of an unfair trial. A criminal defense lawyer can help defendants get the fair trial they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect your case, contact Lennard A. Nahajski with The Nahajski Firm Criminal Defense today.