Quarantining Making Us Apathetic to Crime?

Crime rates continue to spike in Pierce and King County, yet support for these issues seem minimal

February 19, 2021

I began my morning the usual way, which involved waking up early to take my dog out. I walked down my steps to take her to the courtyard, only to be stopped in my tracks upon a realization — my car was not where I parked it last night.

I questioned myself at first; I must have parked it somewhere else and clearly forgot. I grabbed my keys so I could press the lock button and hear my car alarm sound off, only when I did so the sound never came. I circled the parking lot for about five minutes, growing frantic as I searched for my car to no avail. It soon became clear that my car had been stolen.

Since beginning quarantining in late March of 2020, support for crimes have felt “off” in general. Understandably, with COVID running rampant it makes sense that many officials have fires needing to be put out. But it doesn’t change the fact that with everything going on, finding support, especially for crime related concerns, feels at its lowest lately.

“In October, the FBI reported that the homicide rate across the country between January and June rose 15% compared to the same time period in 2019. In Seattle, the increase has been even greater. In 2019, there were 28 homicides in Seattle. That number has nearly doubled, with 55 homicides reported this year.” ”

— Vanessa Misciagna, King5 News

When I contacted officials, the police issued out a missing car report and that was that; from there it became a waiting game. My apartment landlords, however, were less than helpful; they had no idea what happened, and because they don’t fund any form of security on their sites — such as security patrolling our ungated community at night or even just camera installation — there was nothing that could be done on their end. 

Not even a month later on Jan. 26 my boyfriend Carl, who lives with me, had his work van broken into and all his tools stolen on the same lot. We didn’t even bother notifying the police or our apartment that time; we kind of just knew nothing could be done about it.

One thing I began questioning the day my car was stolen was the overall safety of my neighborhood. Was Lakewood always this bad, or has COVID and quarantining simply made some people become desperate thieves? It turns out, there is in fact a trend between the two, according to data provided by neighborhoodscout.com.

Residents in Lakewood have a one and 22 chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crimes as of 2020, with crime rates ranging around 46 per one thousand residents. With this, Vanessa Misciagna from King5 News also reports a rise in homicides in Tacoma during 2020, with these statistics not being seen since the early 90’s.

It is possible that part of the reason for the spike in crime is reactionary to a number of misfortunes caused from quarantining. Jason Rantz from MyNorthwest speculates that crime rates have increased due to a lack of people outside due to restrictions.

“When you look at the precincts most impacted by the burglaries, they tend to have normally busy business districts,” Rantz stated. “But at a time where there is no one around, they’re easier targets for burglaries.”

While crime rates may have gone up due to the window-of-opportunity increasing itself for criminals, I feel as though there is more to why this is happening. Since COVID began, it was mass reported that many individuals were put out of work due to restrictions. 

According to PewSocialTrends.org and the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, around 25 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with this number only continuing to increase as time passes. “Overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started,” PST stated.

With this information in mind, it makes sense that more desperate behaviors and crimes of theft have begun to increase. Many people are most likely simply trying to make ends meet, and thus may have gone to stealing from their own communities as a way to survive.

Despite the hardships many of us are facing during these times however, I find theft amongst our community to be highly deplorable and inexcusable. Job loss or even death in one’s family does not give one the right to steal one’s property or harm another individual. I myself have been struggling with keeping up with rent and small bills that I’ve never had issues with paying before, but I have not used this struggle to further disadvantage others.

The area of Lakewood I lived in wasn’t immune to crime, but I never thought I’d be a victim to it. But what hurt most was how helpless and violated the incident left me feeling. In a way, it felt as though the theft were my own fault and absolutely unpreventable.

Days after my car was stolen, I felt as though the last slither of my motivation for that horrid year had finally given way. I felt I couldn’t focus on work and I ended up dropping my fall classes due to all the stress. While my insurance company was very supportive of the incident, I still couldn’t shake the fact that I’d been robbed and something that was once mine was probably gone for good.

I never ended up getting my car back; it was filed as a loss and to this day I am still car shopping. But what this incident has truly left for me, is the idea that justice and resources for crime-related concerns during the pandemic feel minimal. 

Calling 911 and contacting the police, while being something you should absolutely do if faced with a crime, won’t magically fix the situation. But if there’s anything the year 2020 has taught me, it’s that this year is truly unnatural and I am not the only one being affected negatively by it.

Some advice I had to tell myself that day is that things can happen that are out of my control, but regardless I have to continue doing what needs to be done in my life. It took me a few weeks to get out of my funk, but I’ve since been taking classes again and working normally, thanks to the support of my family. 

Finding that motivation isn’t a quick process by any means, but it’s something that just has to be done during this pandemic.

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