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Crime plummets during COVID-19 lockdown

New research shows that crime fell sharply in April 2020 coinciding with strict social isolation strategies introduced to control the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) examined changes in crime over 6 weeks from mid-March 2020; the time that social distancing measures commenced in NSW.  For key offences we compared the level of crime recorded by police in this 6-week period with the expected level based on data from previous years.

Our study found large decreases in many crime categories including:

  • Robbery – down 42%
  • Non-domestic assault – down 39%
  • Sexual offences – down 32%
  • Break and enter-dwelling (down 29%) and break and enter – non-dwelling (down 25%)
  • Steal from motor vehicle (down 34%) and car theft (down 24%)
  • Shop lifting – down 55%

Some crimes remained stable including DV assault and certain drug offences.

Commenting on the findings BOCSAR Executive Director, Jackie Fitzgerald, noted that in many ways it is not surprising that the huge social upheaval caused by the lockdown also interrupted criminal activity. “It also seems likely that, as restrictions are relaxed and NSW residents resume regular activities, crime rates will return to normal levels.”

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au 

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