COVID crime trends: Speeding, break-ins, domestic violence

Coronavirus

The Portland Police Bureau has noticed specific trends since Oregon schools closed in mid-March

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — From a major decrease in traffic crashes to an uptick in domestic violence arrests, Portland police have noticed some changes in the past month. 

Officers have been tracking trends in the number of calls they’ve received and the types of potential crimes they’ve responded to since Oregon schools were shuttered in mid-March.

In general, police officers in Portland are responding to 12 more calls every day than they did before schools were closed. The PPB found the increase is likely due to people reporting others who aren’t following social distancing guidelines and orders for non-essential businesses to remain closed. And despite seeing a decrease in calls for service during the first few weeks, those numbers swung back up during the week of April 5—suggesting people aren’t following the stay-at-home order as well as they did in the beginning. 

Domestic violence arrests

Perhaps the most glaring trend the Portland Police Bureau has noticed in the past few weeks is an increase in the number of domestic violence arrests. There was a 29% increase between March 12 and April 15 compared to the same time frame in 2019 and a 22% increase compared to the weeks leading up to the school closure order. 

The PPB said these numbers translate to an average of less than one domestic violence arrest per day in the month of March. Officers also pointed out that they’ve seen an increase in domestic violence arrests since January so they can’t specifically blame the coronavirus pandemic or the stay-at-home order. 

Traffic citations

Fewer people commuting into their places of work means fewer people on the road—a rather obvious result reflected in the PPB’s trend report. Police said the number of collision calls have been slashed nearly in half since March 12. Officers are now getting about 20 fewer calls a day than in the previous weeks. 

However, officers are now making more traffic stops than ever. The majority of stops have been for speeding—a sign that drivers are taking more risks. KOIN 6 News previously investigated this spike in traffic stops and learned many speeding drivers falsely assume there are fewer officers on patrol due to social distancing measures. 

Break-ins

Burglary statistics also appear directly linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Portland police said they’ve seen a decrease in home burglaries but an uptick in break-ins targeting commercial businesses. The former is thought to be the result of people spending more time at home—a deterrent to would-be-criminals—while the latter is due to temporary business closures. 

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs were the most-burglarized businesses from March 1 to April 6. Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood saw the most commercial burglaries during that time with a total of 23 followed by the Downtown district (17), Northwest (16) and Centennial (14), according to police.

Gun violence

The number of shootings in the Portland metro area has also increased since mid-March, the PPB said. The bureau reported 156 calls about gunfire from Feb. 6 to March 11; they received 70 more calls from March 12 to April 12. The number of actual shootings incidents increased by five.

Bike thefts

Bike thefts are also on the rise over last year, PPB data shows, though whether the COVID-19 crisis has played a hand in the increase is unclear. The total number of stolen bicycles increased by 42 in the first three months of 2020 compared to 2019.

Portland Police Bureau’s full trend summary

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