How the Pandemic Upended Crime Patterns

An analysis of April 2020 crime and mobility data from eight US cities shows that while crime generally declined since the onset of pandemic-related restrictions, cities that curbed mobility the most experienced more pronounced changes in certain types of crimes.

The cities we chose to analyze – Baltimore, Chattanooga, Chicago, Detroit, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and St. Louis – represent a subset of US cities with relatively higher violent and property crime rates, as well as cities with relatively large populations. These cities also made their April 2020 and historical crime stats available online.

In most of the cities we examined, violent crimes including homicide, rape, assault and robbery decreased more sharply than property crimes. Mobility trends data provided by Google suggest that in cities where widespread stay-at-home orders were in effect, there were fewer opportunities for these types of crimes to take place.

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In Little Rock, Arkansas, however, residents were not staying at home as much as in other cities. Among the cities we looked at, Little Rock had the smallest reduction in visits to retail and recreation locations, the smallest decrease in public transit usage and the smallest change in travel to the workplace.

Little Rock was the only city we examined located in a US state that did not impose a mandatory stay-at-home order.

Little Rock was also the only city we looked at where violent crimes increased in April 2020 when compared to April 2019. The city recorded a 95% increase in robberies and a 250% increase in homicides last month compared to the same month last year.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, had the second-lowest reduction in retail and recreation travel and public transit usage among the cities we examined. It also saw the second lowest reduction in assaults and robberies…  CityMetric

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