Crime

GRAPHS: How crime has risen in downtown since the onset of COVID-19

While property crime is way up, other crimes are actually way down

By Snejana Vorona
August 27, 2020
Crime

GRAPHS: How crime has risen in downtown since the onset of COVID-19

While property crime is way up, other crimes are actually way down

By Snejana Vorona
Aug 27, 2020
A man lies bleeding in the middle of Douglas Street after being stabbed multiple times in Centennial Square. Dashcam footage captured by Daniel Toye.
Crime

GRAPHS: How crime has risen in downtown since the onset of COVID-19

While property crime is way up, other crimes are actually way down

By Snejana Vorona
August 27, 2020
GRAPHS: How crime has risen in downtown since the onset of COVID-19
A man lies bleeding in the middle of Douglas Street after being stabbed multiple times in Centennial Square. Dashcam footage captured by Daniel Toye.

Crime and disorder in Victoria has certainly taken on a much more visible character of late, most notably with the breakup this week of a violent Centennial Square drug trafficking ring that operated out of tents only steps from City Hall. But was COVID-19 the harbinger of an escalating crime wave? We had data visualist Snejana Vorona crunch the numbers on the last five years of 911 call data.

The immediate thing to note in the graph above is that theft, typically the most common crime in Downtown Victoria, is way down as compared to normal. Overall, 200 fewer Victorians were the victims of theft in 2020 (630) as compared to the same period in 2019 (863). Probably the main explanation for this is that more people are at home, where they can better protect their stuff from being taken. Shoplifting is also way down, for the simple reason that shops are operating on limited hours, and it's harder to get away with pocketing merchandise when you're one of only four or five pre-screened customers in a store. But break and enters have utterly exploded, nearly doubling from their 2019 numbers, and more than tripling from what was typical in Victoria only four years ago.

This bar chart uses the same data as the first chart, but broken down by the percentage rise in each crime category downtown. Through that lens, it's possible to see that downtown has indeed seen dramatic increases in some of the most serious crimes, including vehicle theft and weapons charges. Concurrently, several non-violent crimes and infractions have gone into steep decline, including fraud, the aforementioned shoplifting and indecent exposure. Plus, with way fewer drivers on the road, police haven't had nearly as many drunk drivers or excessive speeders to worry about.

While the two preceding charts only track crime in the downtown, this one looks at break and enter trends across the Victoria Police's whole jurisdiction. And the short term results seem promising. While the first weeks of COVID-19 lockdowns saw a rush of break-ins at shuttered businesses, numbers appear to have since stabilized to pre-pandemic levels.

The Capital Daily newsletter is a summary of all the news and events happening in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Subscribe Today
contact@capnews.ca