With nobody on road, how can it happen: Police
Motor vehicles theft reported in the national capital came down by 26 per cent in 2020. Similarly, the number of burglaries and house thefts also plummeted due to a combination of lockdown and fear.
“Crime has come down because of a combination of two things: Lockdown and Covid. People stopped moving, and most of them were not in a position to report even if a crime did occur,” V.N. Rai, retired director general of police, Hyderabad, informed The Observer.
In 2020, the entire nation went under a complete lockdown for months starting March, followed by a series of unlocking phases. The Covid-19 pandemic not only forced a lockdown but also prompted governments to divert resources to the fight against the disease.
“Several police personnel were commissioned on Covid duties. This could have led to the police force not working at their full capacity. On top of this, we were also losing frontline workers; they were getting sick,” Rai shared.
Crime statistics published by Delhi Police showed that the number of motor vehicles thefts went down to 28,732 between January 1, 2020, and October 2020, from 39,066 in the same period the previous year, a 26 drop of per cent.
This trend was seen in other non-heinous crimes like burglary and house theft as well. In 2020, there were 1,698 reported burglaries compared to 2,606 in 2019. Similarly, in 2020, there were 1,657 house thefts reported against 2,291 in 2019.
(According to the Supreme Court, offences that do not provide a minimum sentence of seven years in prison are not heinous.)
Ajeet Singh, a journalist, said this is an extraordinary situation for all. The mobility of people has come down, so has the number of robberies amid fear and chaos. Another possible factor could be underreporting of crime.
“Mobility and crime are often interconnected – which is that if people do not come out on roads with their vehicles, a robber will not be able to commit a crime. Along with this…, there is quite a possibility of cases being underreported,” he said.
“Criminals are also human beings. If the common people are scared of Covid, so are criminals,” Singh added.
Satya Pal, assistant commissioner at the Delhi Police Research Cell, denied that cases were under-registered or underreported. “There was no mobility. Nobody was on the roads, then how can crimes happen? The number of crimes has come down because the whole country was under a lockdown.”
While reported non-heinous crimes registered a decline, the capital – like the rest of the country – witnessed a spike in domestic crimes during the lockdown.