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Tucson shutdowns lead to drop in crimes, crashes across the community

Tucson shutdowns lead to drop in crimes, crashes across the community

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

Traffic collisions in Tucson dropped by nearly half from February 29 to March 28 this year compared with the same time period in 2019, according to the Tucson Police Department.

Tucson has seen a significant drop in crime and traffic collisions following the closures of popular hangouts and because so many people are staying home during the pandemic.

There was a nearly 17% decrease in serious crimes from March 1 to April 16 compared with the same time last year, Tucson police said. That includes property crimes like robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

“We simply don’t have the number of contacts with individuals that we used to, and they don’t have contact with each other,” said Assistant Chief Kevin Hall of the Tucson Police Department.

“I mean, there’s no bars open, any of those places where folks gather socially and where some of these issues could break out.”

Robbery incidents in Tucson were down only 1% from March 1 to April 16 compared with the same time last year. But they were down 13% this year compared with 2019.

“There’s just not the number of folks out there to be robbed,” Hall said.

Convenience stores and similar businesses that remain open during the pandemic make up the bulk of robbery reports to Tucson police now, he said. Still, those are down overall compared with this time last year.

Burglars foiled

Burglaries were down 24% from March 1 to April 16 compared with last year.

The burglary decrease can likely be attributed to more people being home during the day, prime time for burglars, police said.

“Generally burglaries occur during the daytime when people are at work,” Hall said.

Similarly, auto thefts were down 21% from March 1 to April 16 compared with last year.

“The cars aren’t out at parking lots,” Hall said. “They’re not in theaters. They’re not in the entertainment type of venues where there are large parking lots and people will frequently get their cars stolen.”

Crime has fallen similarly in Oro Valley, said Sgt. Amy Graham, a spokeswoman for the Oro Valley Police Department.

Serious crimes decreased 11% from March 1 to April 21, with most of the decrease in burglaries and larcenies.

Graham attributed the larceny decline to temporary store closures in the last month. That means less shoplifting.

The drop in crime didn’t happen in Marana. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said it didn’t see a decrease either, though it expects better data by the end of the month.

The Sheriff’s Department saw an almost 6% increase in crime from January to March compared with the same time last year, according to data provided by the department.

Burglaries decreased through the end of March compared with the same period last year, though the decrease was only in January and February. Numbers for April were not yet available.

Robberies for the Sheriff’s Department were higher overall for the first three months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, but there was a slight decrease in monthly robbery reports in March compared with January of this year.

Larceny reports this year almost mirror those of 2019, while auto theft has been higher every month this year through March compared with last year.

The Sheriff’s Department can’t correlate crime numbers through March with the pandemic, said Marissa Hernandez, spokeswoman for the department. The department doesn’t release crime data until after the end of each month, she said.

“I think we’ll know for sure at the end of April once we finally get those numbers,” Hernandez said of whether the pandemic is affecting property crime rates in the county.

Meanwhile, the Marana Police Department saw a 31% increase in property crimes from March 1 to April 20 compared with the same time last year. The figure includes robberies, burglaries, larcenies and shoplifting, according to data provided by the department.

The Marana Police Department separates its larceny and shoplifting reports.

Fewer wrecks

Traffic collisions have also declined during the pandemic.

Wrecks dropped by nearly half from February 29 to March 28 compared with the same time last year, said Hall, of the Tucson Police Department.

In Marana, vehicle collisions declined 38% from March 1 to April 20 compared with the same time last year.

In Oro Valley, vehicle collisions with property damage dropped from 39 in March 2019 to 29 in March 2020. And vehicle collisions with injury fell from 16 in March 2019 to seven last month.

“We like that we don’t have a lot of issues to begin with, especially with car accidents because of our heightened patrol,” Graham said. “But this has led to even lower numbers.”

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