How Crime Is Changing In The Face of COVID-19

How Crime Is Changing In The Face of COVID-19

Nationwide, there’s starting to be a lot of discussion on the impact this pandemic is having on crime. In Denver, crime is down. Boulder, Colorado, on the other hand, has seen a decrease overall, but a spike in burglaries and reckless driving. North Carolina’s Wake and Durham Counties are seeing only a slight decrease. In St. Louis, mask-wearing is aiding criminals who are looting local businesses. Pennsylvania police are seeing a whopping 89% decline in overall crimes across the state.

Our analysis shows that calls for service with some Relay-connected agencies are down year-over-year almost 30% for some agencies, whereas others are seeing a marked increase, particularly in scams, property and violent crime, and– sadly– domestic violence. We’ve seen increased reports for these things coming in via Relay:

  • Multiple neighbors in downtown Indianapolis reported gunshots one night, helping police triangulate where a particular incident had taken place that ultimately had to do with a property dispute.
  • In mid-March, just days into multiple states issuing social distancing guidelines, we received a report of someone pretending to be a rideshare driver who got into a physical struggle with passengers. The passengers escaped from the moving car, which then went off-road into a tree but still managed to escape. The passengers luckily only lost a purse to the driver.

On our platform, we’ve seen the decrease in emergency calls result in an increase in non-emergency activity, and ultimately record days (for us) of activity. We’ve seen a 36% uptick in reports since the days prior to widespread social distancing orders. First responders are rising to the occasion, though, working faster than ever: the median time to resolve an incident is down– from just over 30 minutes– to now 24 minutes over the last 30 days.

Because seeing is believing, here’s a chart of submissions via Relay to illustrate this trend, with average response times shown:

Reported incidents shown by day, gradually increasing after March 13th. Average response times shown are faster than ever, near 24 minutes.
Incidents reported via Relay have spiked, while our agency partners report that, generally, emergencies are down.

Still, amidst all the apprehension, there’s good news: we’re helping each other more than ever. We’re seeing the essential human spirit come through on our platform through a number of stories:

  • A person in Kentucky shared with police that his neighbor had been unable to get her medication due to a few trips seeing long lines at the pharmacy drive-thru, and was concerned about her. Police stepped in to deliver her prescription directly.
  • A group of neighbors in Indiana who were without power asked if police could keep an eye on them overnight, and in particular asked for the favor of checking on an elderly neighbor who had a generator running in a partially-closed garage.
  • One person in Mississippi reported a missing family member with dementia. Neighbors and police were able to work together virtually via Relay to report their last recollection of seeing him, leading police to the safe return of the family member.

We hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and each other. We’re here for all your non-emergency safety needs: just download our app.

Want to know more about our data? Seeing something we should be aware of? Just want to make a new friend in this pandemic? Email and tell us how you’re feeling.