While burglaries are greatly reduced during the COVID-19 emergency, mostly because people are now home pretty much all the time, other property crimes are still an issue. That’s unsurprising since, among other reasons, there are now fewer potential witnesses out and about.
Plus, we’re all asked to wear masks whenever we go out. That means masks don’t make anyone stand out, which is likely going to make solving some crimes rather interesting.
Criminals in medical masks are ransacking local businesses and it’s adding insult to injury to local businesses struggling in the wake of the crisis.
“It made us feel disgusted,” said Evangeline Sutton, a spokesperson for Clement Auto Service.
At the dealership in St. John, nearly 10 masked men ransacked the place Sunday morning, doing damage and taking off with important papers and brand new truck.
“I think it made us feel angry that they are doing this when we are just trying to stay afloat and service the community,” Sutton said.
St. Peters police say a gun store off I-70 was also recently hit by a thief. The culprit was wearing a face covering and blue medical gloves.
“It’s not a surprise to me because it’s going around the country, on both coasts,” said former St. Louis County Police Chief and Councilmember Tim Fitch.
Police report a 20 percent increase in property crime over this time last year. Make no mistake, either, a 20 percent jump is significant.
Also make no mistake, as things continue on, there will likely be still more of this. Especially if the economy shatters as many experts believe. A sharp downturn in the economy will likely result in more desperate people. While many criminals are that way by choice, there are always likely to be some that turn to crime because they feel all legitimate avenues are now closed to them.
When people get desperate, they don’t worry about the law.
My guess is that we’ll soon see a shift from property crime to violent crime as the quarantine restrictions are lifted should the economy not pick back up where it left off. And let’s face it, it won’t. That means desperate people who let their morality take the backseat will likely go after those who are fortunate enough to not be desperate.
However, that’s not Fitch’s worry right now.
But Fitch says even more worrisome is a potential increase in domestic violence.
“It amazed me the number of people buying alcohol, the more alcohol is consumed at home, the more domestic violence issues go up,” said Fitch.
It’s not wrong to see a strong correlation between alcohol and domestic violence, but it’s also not a given that someone who is drinking will be violent. Still, when people are cooped up with one another, tempers fray and things can get ugly. That’s something no one wants, so it’s time we all start talking more about how to calm the nerves at a time like this.
To be fair, police are having a hard enough time right now. It’s enough to make you look at property crime like this and just shake your head. Then again, scumbags are opportunistic and always have been. They always will be. Let’s just hope that despite the masks and gloves, they’re stupid enough to leave plenty of evidence for the police to use to arrest them.