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COVID-19

News >  Crime/Public Safety

Despite COVID-19 measures, Spokane police data show crime levels are ‘about the same’

UPDATED: Tue., April 7, 2020

With most people at home and many businesses closed for the past two weeks, Spokane police officials expected short-term crime rates in certain categories to rise – but that hasn’t happened to date.

“Everything has stayed about the same,” said Spokane police Sgt. Terry Preuninger, a department spokesperson.

A crime statistics report published by the department on Monday showed a slight increase in burglaries and an even smaller decrease in assaults from the second week in March through last Friday, compared to the preceding four weeks. Thefts and vehicle thefts were also down. But the numbers don’t reflect any significant trends.

“The biggest thing I am trying to keep an eye on is commercial burglaries,” said Preuninger. “And those just haven’t gone up a ton.”

There were 44 commercial burglaries during the past four-week period, in comparison to 32 during the four weeks prior, according to the report. Compared to the corresponding time periods in 2019, there were 38 and 27 commercial burglaries reported, respectively.

Even with many businesses closed during the day, Preuninger said the majority of recent commercial burglaries still occurred overnight.

The department announced at the end of last month it was emphasizing patrols around businesses and residential areas in light of COVID-19 safety measures.

Preuninger said he also thought domestic violence incidents might increase. But apparently that has not happened either, despite concerns that requirements to stay home would further isolate victims and an inability to separate could fuel tensions with abusers.

Spokane police responded to 18 aggravated assault incidents related to domestic violence during the past four weeks, just one fewer than the preceding four weeks, according to the crime statistics report. In 2019, the corresponding time periods showed 25 and 17 incidents, respectively.

Overall, the crime statistics report showed a small decrease in violent crime and relatively no change in property crimes so far this year, compared to the same period in 2019.

As COVID-19 case counts rose locally last month, Crime Check and 911 calls experienced “a slight increase at first, but it leveled off,” according to Cpl. Mark Gregory, a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

Officials have not discussed problems with people calling 911 to report social distancing violations since announcing how to properly file complaints, Gregory said.

People can report noncompliant businesses by emailing InlandBizCompliance@spokanecounty.org or calling (509) 477-2684.

For individuals violating social distancing guidelines, local agencies have focused on education, rather than enforcement.

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