Crimes that May Affect Us During the Covid-19 Pandemic
In the second part of this series we’re talking about the potential crimes associated with a pandemic, what we can do to protect those we love and how we can better our communities. To recap the first part of Protecting Your Family in a Pandemic we talked about making Covid-19 specific go bags for our cars and to carry with us. Why the mental health of our family is important. The thought that public schools may be closed for the rest of the school year. And to make a plan to stay with family or friends if your home becomes unsafe for any reason.
Let’s start off part two with talking about police response and the potential crimes we may see during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our society has changed and anytime there is a big shift in society there will be ripple effects that touch all aspects of our lives.
Dallas Police to Stop Responding to Some Calls
Last week the Dallas Police Department released a statement saying that they will no longer be responding in person to some calls. That headline will get your attention, but let’s take a look at what that really means. The reality is that two officers in the Dallas PD has tested positive for Covid-19 at the time of this podcast recording.
Dallas PD is taking action to protect their citizens and their force. They are limiting the types of calls in which an officer will respond in person. This will help a potential undiagnosed officer from spreading the Covid-19 virus to citizens. Likewise, it’ll protect officers from citizens who may have the virus. (Because police officers are people too and not immune to the virus.)
Instead of appearing in person, officers will call on the phone and submit reports that way. These low-level calls that will not require an in-person officer include vandalism and theft. Now that kinda sounds like a big deal to us as an average person, but a higher priority of the department is to keep people alive.
They need healthy officers to respond to urgent, life-threatening calls. So able bodied officers will be able to respond to murder calls instead of being tied up with a homeless man who broke into your car to steal your gym bag. While you may not agree with how this is being handled, it’s the sign of the odd times in which we find ourselves.
Actions like this are not only happening in Dallas, it’s happening in many communities across a lot of states. As we go further into this pandemic it will get worse before it gets better. So while your city and law enforcement may not be affected today, at some point it almost certainly will be.
Also to consider here, a small police force might be decimated by Covid-19. I’ve done training videos with lone officers who were the only on-duty officer for an entire town. I’ve also worked with departments that only have 8 people on staff and that includes the receptionist!
Large departments like Dallas who have 3,100 officers may be hit hard with Covid-19 and may not be able to keep up with the demand for law enforcement. Criminals will take note of this. Let’s consider what will be the real response time might be for an emergency you may have. Are you ready to deter crime on your property? Are you ready to defend your family?
Now let’s look at what we as responsible citizens can do to first off protect ourselves and also to free up law enforcement from having to respond to us in the first place.
We are already seeing the rise of scams related to Covid-19. There have been people selling fake Covid-19 testing kits door to door. They’re also calling older, at-risk Americans claiming to have tests just for seniors. So please let your family and friends know that you can’t buy Covid-19 tests now, they must be administered by a medical provider or the government.
Rise in Property Crime
I personally feel we’re going to see a rise in property crime at the local level. The longer this social distancing lasts, the more stir crazy people will get. This is when people act out and do dumb things like smash mailboxes.
Think about the teenagers in your area. They’re going to get bored at some point and they’re parents may force them outside. This is when an uptick in vandalism might occur. A can of spray paint looks awfully tempting to a young mind when you think that you won’t get caught because everyone is worried about bigger problems. So the next thing you know there is unmentionable iconography all over your neighborhood and stop signs.
People do unwise things when they are bored or they just want to rebel against the system because they don’t like it. Here we may see an increase in burglaries in closed businesses.
If you own a business, check on it as you can to make sure it’s secure. You don’t have to get out of the car, just drive around and look for signs of forced entry like broken glass and open doors. Keep your lights on inside and arm your alarm system.
Home Invasions Might Increase
Some people may even be brazen enough to invade homes. Even though there is a greater chance of a person being present during the break in, because of the pandemic, someone being home may not deter one or more individuals from breaking in.
People might run out of money or food and get desperate and try to forcibly take it from someone like you. I feel that home security is more important now that it has ever been before despite the fact that we are all home more.
To make sure you minimize your chances of being a target of a thief, turn on your porch lights at night, keep your doors and windows locked and keep your garage door down. Don’t make your home look like an easy target.
Deterring a criminal is the most underrated element to home security and that’s why it’s part of my layered home defense strategy. This is a multilayered approach to keeping your family and property safe For more on this, read my book Home Security: The Secure Dad’s Guide.
And one crime that I know will happen, but may not ever be reported is domestic violence. With everyone at close quarters, it’s going to happen. People will not be able to control their emotions or communicate in a non-confrontational way.
There will be fights because people are told to stay in close quarters at home. If you add alcohol and drugs to fuel this fire, it will be much worse. The bars will be closed and there will be nowhere else to go.
If you feel like you are in this situation now I want you to call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Or go to https://www.thehotline.org/help/ to chat with someone.
Rise of Porch Pirates
Since stores are closed we’ll be ordering more from Amazon and other companies who will ship us or orders. That means, you guessed it, an increase in the scourge of thieves - porch pirates.
On a recent walk around my neighborhood I was surprised to see 3 or 4 packages on people’s doorsteps. I could tell the house was occupied, but people just weren’t picking up their packages. There will be thieves who are motivated by greed or the thrill of the crime that they’ll come up onto your porch during the day when you’re home and take your stuff.
Turn on your shipping notifications to know when to expect a delivery. Most people are going to be getting valuable things like medication and ammunition shipped to their homes and porch pirates will take notice. To learn more ways to combat porch pirates listen to episode 12 of The Secure Dad Podcast.
Humans are Humans
In general terms think about what’s happening in society. For some people money will be very hard to come by and they’ll do what they can to survive and that might mean taking from your family. For others they’ll bored and looking for a thrill, so they’ll commit a dumb crime.
Right now we can still go to restaurants and shopping, but if that changes in your area, it might make the situation more desperate for some. We also have the benefit of power and internet services. If for some reason you have a blackout of either service, that could escalate things and cause civil unrest.
During this time it’s important to remember our basic human behaviors and one of those is that humans will do what’s in their best interest. It’s not that people are against you, they’re just out for themselves. Keep this mindset as we progress.
If things become unsafe in your area, again, make a plan to get out and stay with family if you must. Just like evacuating for a storm or wildfire, have a plan to leave if you have to.
Community and Tacos
We’ve talked about a few things that might escalate during Covid-19 that have nothing to do with the actual virus. Let’s now focus on some things that we can do to strengthen our communities. The first one is easy.
I want you to type a short letter explaining who you are, what house you live in and your phone number. Then print out a few to put in your neighbor’s mailboxes. This way you can make contact with them to make sure they’re okay and forge a sense of togetherness. You can tell your neighbors that you can help if needed and you’ll start a group text if you see anything suspicious going on. Also, if you have a neighborhood Facebook group, now’s the time to revive it
And for another way to build community I suggest you use one of my favorite things that solves all of my problems: tacos. If you are allowed, contact a local food truck to come to your neighborhood and set up. This way your neighbors can come out see each other from a safe distance and eat delicious tacos.
You probably won’t be able to “congregate” as it were but everyone can have a picnic in their yard. If you are in an apartment, set up on your balcony and wave to people. This can help a local business and help build community. Just make sure it’s okay to do in your area and tell everyone to keep a safe distance. If you don’t feel like this will work in your area, then hire the food truck just for yourself.