After several long weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed Palm Beach County to enter Phase I of reopening on May 11. The county, which had the lowest number of coronavirus cases out of South Florida’s three major counties — but the third-highest number of cases in the state of Florida — has started reopening nonessential businesses.
Phase One allowed for the slow reopening of non-essential businesses but carried several restrictions, including limiting the capacity of restaurants and retail stores to 25%. Just a week later, the governor expanded Phase One. As of May 18, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and museums may operate at 50% capacity. Beaches have also reopened.
People are anxious to leave the safety of their homes, but many are still out of work. When an economic downturn hits, there’s a general concern that crime rates will spike. But the data shows that while the rates of some crimes do go up, crises like the pandemic we’re experiencing tend to bring a reduction in crime overall.
Is there a Link Between Unemployment and Crime Rates?
Major cities have reported significant drops in crime in the weeks following lockdown. Within the first week of the crisis in New York City, crime plummeted by 25%. Criminology research shows there’s no correlation between unemployment rates and crime rates. Riots tend to happen during periods of social unrest, while looting happens immediately after riots, electrical blackouts, or natural disasters.
With most people cooped up during the lockdown, people who would have committed common crimes took precautions and stayed home — including would-be burglars.
Are there more burglaries because of lockdown?
No. Like most people, those inclined to commit burglaries are concerned with the risk of becoming ill. Would-be burglars are not going into people’s homes to steal their valuables, particularly not at a time when more people are home than ever, sheltering in place.
Someone aiming for household goods would also have a hard time selling them at a reasonable price while people have no disposable income. Although residential burglaries have declined, police officials in some jurisdictions have reported a spike in commercial burglaries, as businesses are left unattended for several months.
Data gathered by the Police Executive Research Forum shows a significant drop in crime in 30 large and mid-sized cities and counties.
Eighteen of the thirty jurisdictions experienced a decrease in violent crimes, like murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault:
- 33% drop in violent crime reports in San Francisco
- 25% drop in violent crime reports in New York City
- 25% drop in violent crime reports in Los Angeles
Overall, 25 of 30 jurisdictions reported a drop in property crime like burglary, although police chiefs did report an increase in business burglaries. Other crimes likely to increase during economic hardship include:
- Domestic violence
- Fraud (selling miracle cures, sales of non-existent masks, price gouging)
The executive director of the forum and police chiefs he had spoken to do not believe the pandemic has drastically changed gang warfare, drug crimes, and gun violence.
“The pandemic has not dramatically altered traditional patterns of gang warfare, drug-related violence, and individuals using guns to settle personal disputes. These serious, deeply entrenched problems continue to drive much of the violence in our communities.”
A Burglary Defense Lawyer You Can Count on During These Hard Times
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel provides effective criminal defense for people accused of burglary and other property crimes in West Palm Beach. He has worked as a studious criminal defense lawyer for more than 25 years and holds a respectable reputation throughout Palm Beach and surrounding counties.
If you face burglary charges, you should know that these are severe felony charges that could completely alter your life. You deserve quality and fair representation. Contact our firm for a free consultation by calling (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form. Our goal is to protect your rights at each turn while providing aggressive and competent legal counsel. We aim to have your charges reduced or dismissed so you can lead a better life.