The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to mass unemployment, and whenever a community, state, or nation experiences a surge in unemployment, people start to get desperate and they begin doing things they’d never normally do. Often, people make bad choices because for them or their families, it’s a matter of survival.
A man may steal food at a local gas station to feed his kids. A single mother may sell her body to pay another night’s stay at a motel for her children. A normally calm husband may get so stressed by money that he and his wife get in a fight. She slaps him repeatedly and he finally snaps and punches her hard, leading to a 911 call and criminal charges for family violence. A young father may steal a neighbor’s laptop and sell it to buy diapers for his newborn – the list of possibilities is endless.
Going Beyond Street Crime
While it’s no secret that unemployment leads to certain types of crimes, not all crime related to the pandemic is street crime. COVID-19 has created a breeding ground for an array of criminal behavior that goes well beyond the property crimes and domestic disputes. Opportunists know people are panicked and afraid and they feeding off the negative energy. But how so?
Criminals are selling fake COVID-19 cures. They’re calling people and trying to solicit donations for fake charities that don’t exist. They’re also hoarding things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer and medical supplies, and face masks, and demanding exorbitant prices.
But Crime Rates Plummet
Even though unemployment typically leads to property crimes, drug and alcohol-related crimes, and domestic violence, crime rates have actually plummeted amid the pandemic according to USA Today. “Massive drops in traffic and person stops – as much as 92% in some jurisdictions – helped drive sharp declines in drug offenses and DUIs. Thefts and residential burglaries decreased with fewer stores open and homes unoccupied, and some agencies logged fewer assaults and robberies. Bookings into each of nearly two dozen county jails monitored by the news organization fell by at least a quarter since February,” reported USA Today.
What’s going to happen when the stay-at-home orders are lifted and the unemployed folks get desperate for money to pay for their basic expenses? While the stimulus checks are welcomed, they’re not a long-term solution to this economic crisis; crime may ensue as a natural result of a depressed economy.