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Coronavirus: With Most Angelenos Stuck At Home, Crime Numbers Drop

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a bite out of crime in Los Angeles County.

New numbers Wednesday show that property and street crime are down across the board as most residents have been ordered to remain at home.

Los Angeles police reported 14 percent fewer arrests in the first half of March compared to the same period in 2019, LAPD Public Information Director Josh Rubenstein told CBS2 Wednesday.

Burglary is down 16 percent year-to-date compared to 2019, while personal theft is down 15 percent, Rubenstein added.

"That would make sense because people are home right now, so those property thefts are down," Rubenstein said.

Overall, LAPD arrests are down 5 percent year-to-date and violent crimes are down 4 percent. However, homicides are still up.

"When it comes to violent crime, again, that's something that we're always looking at, and I'm not sure this particular crisis that the city is going through directly correlates to any numbers we have," Rubenstein said.

In an interview Thursday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told CBS2 that gang violence has also remained steady despite the stay at home order.

"One area that we still have a continued issue is with gang violence," Moore said. "Despite this pullback, we have seen a relatively stable existence of shooting violence between individuals that are involved in gangs. And that's an area that working with our interventionists and with our prevention specialists. We're making every effort to try to counter and to try to ensure that the safety of Los Angeles is not just in property crimes and standard street crimes, but also in regards to the terrible impact gang violence can have on a community."

Meanwhile, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Wednesday also reported a significant drop in crime rates.

"Well, the arrest numbers have gone down quite substantially," Villanueva told reporters at a news conference.

Villanueva said the department has seen an approximate 6 percent drop in overall crime year-to-date, and a 10 percent drop in violent crime.

Villanueva added that certain types of crime could see a spike, such as domestic violence.

"We're going to have a concern about domestic violence, so many people living in cramped, closed quarters with nothing to do and nowhere to go, that will be a challenge," Villanueva said.

Both the sheriff's department and LAPD are beefing up patrols near closed businesses to watch out for possible looting and vandalism.

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Last week, the LAPD announced it was assigning half of all its detectives to full-time uniformed street patrol to what it deemed as critical locations throughout the city. The department stressed this was not a response to any specific heightened criminal activity, but was being done in an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of the residents and store operators who might be dealing with very large crowds.

On Tuesday, about 1,700 inmates were released from L.A. County jails in order to lessen the inmate population during the pandemic.


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