Pandemic policing: Does increase in calls means spike in crime?

Pandemic policing: Does increase in calls means spike in crime?
WatchPolice see increase in calls during pandemic, but may not be increase in crime, says criminologist

It’s been almost a month now since many people closed and boarded their shops.

Then came the reports of break-ins.

“At 11:30 at night, a guy attempted to break in through one of the windows with a hammer,” said Tyson Schley,owner of Giant Victoria on April 5 to CHEK News.

Victoria police said crime calls are up.

“We do see ups and downs in crime trends throughout the year. This one is specifically concerning for us because it is quite a jump since March 15th, 22 per cent increase in total calls for service for us,” said Const. Cameron MacIntyre with Victoria Police.

Property crime has also spiked 25 per cent in the region for the month of March.

Just this Tuesday, a Victoria Police special task force seized $30,000 worth of stolen property from a prolific property offender.

On Wednesday, they carried out a similar bust.

And this property crime spike is being felt across the region.

West Shore RCMP is also seeing alarming increases. There, business break and enters increased 75 per cent, reports of stolen cars are up 167 per cent.

But Langford’s mayor says he’s dealing with the increase.

“If there’s an uptick in crime, there’s going to be an increase in members, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young.

And while this uptick is certainly concerning, a UVIC criminologist says that crime overall, isn’t necessarily increasing — it’s just shifting.

“During times of recession you will see property crimes increase, people become more desperate,” sais UVIC Criminologist Garry Gray.

“But it’s also we’ve sort of changed our social behaviours. We’re all now sort of contained in one place, so it would create different types of opportunities.”

And that’s exactly what property crime typically is — a crime of opportunity.

So with spaces usually occupied, not being observed, crime seems to be shifting too.

And experts say we may see more workplace, vehicle, or online crimes in the future.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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