Crime is a factor societies continually have to contend with. However, recent crime trends are changing. With the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, total crime decreased by 3.5 percent compared to the previous year. However, if you take a closer look, the percentage of 'non-contact' violent crimes such as blackmail, intimidation, and stalking have increased despite the decline in the overall crime rate.
The Institute for Security Policy at the National Police University held a two-day academic web seminar from October 13, 2020. At the seminar, the results of a study on the theme of 'Korean security environment before and after COVID-19' was announced. The report showed an increase in crime from January to February, but this plunged 8 percent in March. However, as of March, blackmail had increased by 44.44 percent, and intimidation showed an increase of 22.78 percent compared to the previous year. These kinds of crimes are typical non-contact violent crimes committed through phone calls and text messages.
Another kind of non-contact crime is stalking. Most notably, stalking often involving the targeting of women has also increased. There were more than 279 stalking cases so far this year, which are 13.9 percent up from last year. There has also been an increase in child abuse and dating violence in the home. Reports of child abuse have risen 2.2 percent to 658 cases, while dating violence has risen 0.5 percent to 2,748 cases. Analysis suggests the reason for this is that people have been cut off from the outside world through social distancing, and this has been further compounded by an increase in the time spent with close people such as family members and lovers.
Not only non-contact crimes but also home invasion and property damage have increased 24.8 percent and 6.05 percent, respectively. This is also an aspect of the longer time spent at home due to social distancing.
On the other hand, other crimes have seen a reduction. For instance, traffic-related crimes have dropped significantly as people have refrained from going out. Abscondence has shown a decline of 62.7 percent and in turn traffic violations have seen a decrease of 47.5 percent compared to the previous year. In addition, school violence has decreased by 54.1 percent as students were restricted from going to school. Also, the number of reports of juvenile delinquency, which is mainly made up of teenagers, has decreased by 20.8 percent.
Police officers are also changing the way they patrol with the changing pattern of crime caused by COVID-19. Yeong-cheon Police Station, for example, is now patrolling with drones. Since October 2020, the police have attached speakers to drones in order to patrol places where many residents gather, such as bus stops and shelters, thus helping to prevent accidents and crimes.
The patterns of the crime being committed today have changed a lot due to COVID-19. Despite the progress of social distancing, crimes have been increasing in other ways. With this in mind, it is necessary to recognize the changing crime patterns and seek various preventive methods.