Crime in this pandemic
Crime patterns are changing already as this pandemic causes widespread changes in society. If the disruptions continue long enough and cause enough trouble, we could be looking at significant increases in certain types of crime tailored to fit our new realities. We should stop and think about our personal safety in regards to crime in case we need to make some adjustments in our normal defenses.
A small percentage of the population engages in crime and other antisocial behavior as a lifestyle. Crime is their full time “job.” You should give these people some thought, as they are currently spending a lot of their time giving you some thought, looking for new opportunities to commit crime. I’ve seen preliminary signs that they are already modifying their behavior to take advantage of opportunities they perceive caused by society’s responses to COVID-19. More on that below.
There is a larger percentage of the population that engages in crime as something like a side gig. Crime isn’t the primary focus of their lives, but they engage in it piecemeal as the opportunities present themselves. These people will take advantage of any weaknesses and opportunities they perceive, which may cause a significant increase in how much crime they commit and how much we are victimized.
The large majority of people avoid committing crimes, but might engage in it if they are stressed and desperate enough. The stresses and economic hardships many people are experiencing may provide enough stress to cause “normal,” law abiding people to engage in various types of crime they’ve never before committed. True chaos and historically high levels of crime are possible if enough of the “normal” people start breaking the law and victimizing their neighbors. This may catch many of us off-guard, so we should wise up as fast as possible.
If that weren’t enough to raise our level of alarm, police capacities and response times are also starting to deteriorate just when we need them the most. Police personnel are not immune from COVID-19 and we are starting to see reports that departments in known hotspots like the Seattle, Detroit, Philadelphia and NYC areas are starting to report officers infected with COVID-19, others exposed and in quarantine, and even some deaths already from the virus. Police departments are having to make difficult adjustments to try to protect their personnel from the illness while maintaining as much of their capacities to prevent and respond to crime as possible. Individual officers are watching the news and listening to their command staff and trying to decide how they are going to alter what they do at work. Some are getting very conservative and have quit nearly everything they used to do to proactively prevent crime and increase quality of life. Basically, they’re parking their patrol cars and waiting for a 9-1-1 call before they do anything. No more stopping suspicious individuals; no more enforcing low level crimes; no more checking on businesses and homes for break ins; limiting interaction with the public in whatever ways they can, etc. Whatever level of police protection you are used to is going to suffer and you should make a note of that and consider any changes you need to make to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property. The criminals are certainly making notes about deteriorating police capabilities which they assess as golden opportunities. This is one reason why police departments are usually secretive about how many of their officers are not available for duty due to the virus and the specific ways that fact has hampered their operations. They don’t want to tip off the criminals any more than necessary, though the criminals have an impressive grapevine intelligence system. Unfortunately, that means you as a citizen will not truly appreciate how much your local police department has been degraded. I would advise you to assume police capacities are degrading quickly and significantly more than you realize.
One thing I’m sure about is that there hasn’t been a new crime committed in two or three thousand years. However, there are constantly new creative variations on all the old crimes. This is my first pandemic too so I’m assuming: 1) all the old crimes will continue, 2) some creative new variations on the old crimes will appear and catch people off guard, 3) some crimes will decrease because of the pandemic and 4) some crimes will increase because of the pandemic. The good news for us is that the usual measures we take to prevent and effectively respond to crime will serve us well in this crisis. However, some adjustments to current realities will be required.
Here are some of the crimes I expect to increase: 1) domestic violence, 2) child abuse, 3) home invasions, 4) burglary of vacant buildings and closed businesses, 5) confidence scams (especially over the phone and on line) and 6) prostitution in which the sex worker is contacted by phone or computer, and is either visited indoors by the customer or goes to the customer’s indoor location.
Here are some of the crimes I expect to decrease: 1) burglary of occupied residences, 2) bank robberies, and 3) street prostitution.
Here are the ways criminals have always exploited their victims and will continue to do so in this pandemic.
Exploit inattention: If you leave your purse in your shopping cart while you look for an item on a nearby shelf, you’re going to be more vulnerable to its theft than ever. If you’re worried about your elderly loved one in the hospital with COVID-19 and not paying attention to threats in your immediate environment, you could easily be carjacked.
Exploit trust: Scammers are already going through neighborhoods taking advantage of people’s trust to sell cures for COVID-19, and gain entrance to homes to commit thefts, robberies and sexual assaults. Scammers and robbers will use all kinds of ruses to exploit your trust and get you to buy something or to open your door: an official looking ID card, a utility or business uniform (eg. UPS), the presence of a child or woman, etc.
Exploit fear: Look out for bogus “cures” and ineffective preventive measures that separate you from your money. Watch out for the official looking guy who says there’s a gas leak in the neighborhood (or contaminated tap water) and he needs to get into your house right now to check for it with the equipment he’s carrying.
Exploit greed: Look out for get-rich-quick schemes with the new angle of the pandemic woven into them. Look out for the apparently cash-strapped car dealer or car owner who says he’s desperate for cash and will sell you his vehicle for 40% below Blue Book value. Then you later discover the vehicle was cleaned up after it was submerged in a flood for two days in another part of the country and is essentially worthless.
Exploit ignorance: You get a phone call from a person claiming to be a tow truck driver, an attorney, a police officer, or a nurse informing you that your relative (they will give you the relative’s name) is in some kind of trouble and needs $250 to get help or get out of the trouble. Your relative is unable to come to the phone to verify this but the caller is calling from your relative’s own cell phone (at least that’s what your phone’s caller ID says). So you make arrangements to wire the $250 only to discover later you were scammed by someone who got access to your relative’s cell phone while s/he was on a cheap public wifi hotspot and faked you out with a common computer program to make the relative’s phone number pop-up on your caller ID instead of the caller’s actual number.
Exploit physical weakness: You’re much less likely to be the victim of a residential burglary if you’re stuck at home 24 hours per day. Burglars don’t like breaking into homes where people are present because they’re afraid of the risks. However, if you appear physically weak and unable/unlikely to fight back effectively, you become a big, juicy sitting duck at home for those who are willing to commit extreme violence to take what you have. Under normal circumstances, you would blend into the thousands of people a predator might choose, but if that predator can’t find victims his usual ways, he may try some home invasions instead. I expect home invasions to increase as predators thrash around looking for bigger scores than hitting convenience stores and liquor stores.
Exploit slower or non-existent police response: Once criminals become convinced police are taking a lot longer to respond to crimes (if they come at all) they will be emboldened to try more of what they already do and to attempt crimes that looked too risky to them in normal times. I expect this to start first where police publicize which crimes they will no longer respond to and crimes for which suspects will be released on the street because courts are closed and jails are full. In Philadelphia for instance, public announcements were recently made that suspects caught committing fraud, committing retail theft, stealing valuables from cars, stealing cars, and breaking into homes and businesses (to name a few) would be released on the street and an arrest warrant gotten for them after the crisis is over. Considering the huge backlog of cases that city courts will be faced with once the crisis is over, all the cops and most of the criminals know there’s only a snowball’s chance in hell that they will eventually be arrested for a non-violent crime committed months previously during the pandemic. They also know that the Soros-funded, life-long defense attorney elected District Attorney in Philadelphia (Larry Krasner) will deny most of those arrest warrants when the police start submitting them (“in the interest of judicial efficiency” or some such thing).
So what can you do now to reduce the odds being victimized?
1. Pay close attention to your surroundings, even at home, and expect criminals to target you. Expect physical attacks and con jobs in which you are outsmarted.
2. Turn the dial on your trust of people way down and turn the dial on your suspicion way up.
3. Remain level-headed and avoid acting on the emotions of fear and greed.
4. Do everything you can to look like you can defend yourself to deter attacks and everything you can to be able to effectively defend yourself if attacked anyway.
5. Rely on yourself first and discount in your mind the help you think the police are going to be able to provide for you.
Over the years I have written on these topics for Peak Prosperity. Those posts are still available to you (below) but much of the wisdom in them assumes you have time to get ready. Well, the crisis is upon us so there’s a lot less you can do now. However, there are still valuable resources and information in those posts. Since you’re probably shut in for most of the time you probably have time to review them.
My daughters recent purchases included additional bullets, tasers, door jams, door alarms and motion sensor cameras.
Knowing your neighbors also helps.
Bronx, NY – An NYPD officer tested positive for COVID-19 just days after the department’s medical division told her to wrap up her sick leave and get back to work.
When the 46th Precinct officer began feeling ill on March 17, she called in sick to work for the next several days, the New York Post reported.
“She had a headache, minor fever, cough, body ache, chills, congestion,” a source told the paper.
The officer went to an appointment with the NYPD’s medical division on March 20, and somewhat seemed to be on the mend at that time, according to the source.
Two days later, the officer was back in uniform after being told by NYPD doctors to get back to work, the New York Post reported.
Her positive COVID-19 test results came back positive on Wednesday – days after she had been cleared to return to the streets.
Approximately seven percent of the department was out on medical leave on Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported.
If that number hits 16 percent, an emergency plan including mandatory 12-hour shifts is expected to be enacted, an NYPD officer told Vanity Fair.
Another officer said that several officers contracted the novel coronavirus after NYPD Transit Chief Ed Delatorre visited their station earlier in March.
Chief Delatorre later tested positive for COVID-19.
“They were told to continue working until they [got] a fever,” the officer told Vanity Fair. “The NYPD got confirmation they tested positive, and instead of staying home and [being given] sick time, they were ordered back to work until their symptoms worsened.”
A sergeant who fell ill and was told to go back to work began coughing up blood while on shift, Vanity Fair reported.
He later tested positive for COVID-19.
Another officer said that the department has essentially done nothing to provide them with personal protective gear.
He said that all of the estimated 200 officers at his command were given one single-use mask and one pair of blue gloves approximately two weeks ago.
Although the masks are no longer effective, officers have continued to re-use them.
Thanks tch0655. I’m going over to have a chat with a friend who recently retired from law enforcement tomorrow about this very thing. I’m leaning heavily towards starting to conceal carry again and have started double bolting my doors when I’m inside.
Such a fantastic post! Thanks!
A huge looming factor is mass releases of prisoners plus police officers falling ill and dying at the same time. Literally foundations of social order collapsing before or eyes.
This looks like it will evolve in a creepy fashion… there’s still a strong sense of normality out and about, people still driving, walking around town, I can’t believe there are open restaurants in my Maryland town with parking lots full of customers (I thought all non-essential businesses were to close). But there’s likely to be a change that you don’t really notice a clear line of demarcation for but gradually, and then swiftly an historic crime wave is likely to hit. 🙁
crime, crime, crime, Crimes, Crimes, Boom!
The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be a flare-up of social unrest across major Western cities as millions have lost their jobs, economies have crashed into depressions, and the military is being called up to maintain order.
The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that riots could be imminent in low-income neighborhoods as extreme wealth inequality has left households unprepared and without a cash buffer to weather the economic downturn.
As we’ve noted before, many Western households were already stretched thin before the shutdowns began, with little savings, insurmountable debts, and the lack of access to proper healthcare. Now, these folks, which many have been laid off from gig-economy and service sector jobs, have zero income and could be emotionally motivated to hit the streets and protest…
…We have noted that National Guard armored vehicles have already been spotted across the country and have suggested that troops are being positioned around major US metros to maintain order if social unrest was seen in low-income neighborhoods.
The Western world is on the brink of turmoil. The dominos are already falling with crashing economies in Europe and the US, triggering massive job losses that could soon lead to the unraveling of social fabric.
Governments offering universal basic income as a solution to keep their citizens content won’t work this time. The West is headed for a period of instability, not just economically, but socially.
And now it all makes sense why Americans are rushing to gun stores…
Interesting anecdotal evidence in the embedded videos.
Its a contest – which will be our undoing first. Social inequality on a scale the world has never seen before. And those with power and wealth will use violence against those who have little.
Or the collapse of our resources and environment.
For a crystal clear picture – Chris Hedges who has seen the collapse of war torn societies.
I suggest you not watch it. It’s easier to concentrate on masks and numbers than see the big picture.
Repeat offender Joshua Haskell allegedly broke into a random woman’s home and threatened to cut her head off.
American Fork, UT – A parolee who was released from a halfway house due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 allegedly broke into a random woman’s home and threatened to cut her head off with a serrated knife.
Convicted felon Joshua Haskell, 42, was serving time in the Utah State Prison after he violated a previous release onto parole, the Deseret News reported.
Just days prior to the alleged attack, Haskell was granted parole yet again and was released to a halfway house.
But that placement was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 17, the repeat offender was “suddenly released” into the community, according to his arrest affidavit.
According to police, a woman and her juvenile son were asleep in their home when Haskell broke in on March 19, the Deseret News reported.
The woman was awoken by the sound of her stairs creaking, and quickly realized that there was a stranger in her bedroom watching her, police said.
Haskell was armed with a serrated knife, which he had “raised toward his head with the knife pointing down,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The woman began screaming, at which point Haskell threatened to “cut her head off” if she didn’t quiet down, police said.
After binding her ankles and wrists with a pair of shoelaces, Haskell allegedly told the victim that he was going to take off with her car, cash bank cards, and PIN numbers, and that he would come back and kill her if she didn’t give him the correct numbers, the Deseret News reported.
Meanwhile, the woman’s juvenile son heard his mother screaming and placed a call to 911.
When police arrived, the victim told her attacker to “hurry and leave through the window,” but he refused because one of the gloves he had been wearing was still inside her home, the Daily Herald reported…
(CNN) — A Maine man said armed neighbors descended on his home and chopped down a tree to block his road and prevent him from leaving because they believed he may have coronavirus.
The Vinalhaven resident said he went outside Friday to check why his cable service wasn’t working and found a tree blocking the end of his road, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
“While investigating the downed tree, a neighbor started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around. Believing the group may be there to harm him, (he) fled to his residence and told his roommates what he had found,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook.
The three roommates stayed in the home, where they used a VHF radio to contact the Coast Guard for assistance and a drone to monitor the group’s activity, the sheriff’s office said. Vinalhaven is an island town.
When law enforcement arrived, the group had fled and it was “apparent” that a tree had been cut down and dragged to block the road, the sheriff’s office said.
Officers learned that some residents believed the roommates needed to be quarantined. None of the roommates, who were from New Jersey and were renting a home in Vinalhaven while working a construction job since September, showed symptoms consistent with Covid-19, deputies said…
Bad sign: “normal” people engaging in crime.