Serious crimes from SF to NY drop during coronavirus shelter-in-place: report

Serious felonies and arrests have dropped in the last few weeks from California to New York with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

And that is also true for the Bay Area's three largest cities: San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, according to the Chronicle’s review of recently released police data.

The news comes as millions of people are forced to stay at home and even as hundreds of inmates are being released from local jails. 

Since a day after the Bay Area's first shelter-in-place order, the number of reported thefts, assaults and robberies in San Francisco plummeted, according to the Chronicle.

Violent crime was down 31% during the first week of the shelter-in-place order, compared with the same period in 2019. Property crime rates were nearly 50% lower during the same time frame.

In San Jose, violent crimes were down 45% and property crimes dropped 36% during the first week of the stay-at-home order, compared with the same period in 2019. The city had an especially big decline in robberies and residential burglaries, which plummeted by 56%, according to the Chronicle's review of police data.

The total number of reported crimes in San Jose between March 15 and March 21 of this year was lower than any other week to date in the past two years, with a total of 373 incidents compared with an average of 548.

In Oakland,  total reported crimes were about the same: 250 incidents between March 16 and March 22, compared with 259 for approximately the same period in 2019. Violent crime rates were much lower, but property crime rates rose, the Chronicle reported.

After an initial decline the week after social distancing was enforced, reported burglaries and theft started to climb back up in Oakland, the Chronicle found.

And that's not to mention a huge gathering of illegal sideshow drivers and particpants over the weekend in Oakland. 

In New York City, serious felonies dropped by 16.6% between March 16 and March 22 from 1,604 felonies in 2019 compared to 1,337 in 2020, the Wall Street Journal said. Murder rates saw the biggest drop, with an 85.7% decrease from the prior year for the week of March 16 through March 22. Car thefts, however, increased by 51.5% with 103 thefts this year as opposed to 68 last year.

Los Angeles arrests also dropped during the first 15 days of March by 14% from 3,406 to 2,944 arrests — dropping the daily average from 300 to 60, the LA Times reported. 

But not all cities are experiencing a drop in crime. 

Chicago saw a 43% increase in killings during 2020 as compared to 2019, which some officers attributed to a massive reorganization within Chicago's Police Department, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

While street crimes have dropped, experts told the Chronicle that crimes inside the home — such as child abuse, battery and domestic violence — could increase as people remain stuck in close quarters.

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez