Theft down and coronavirus may have played a role

Theft in the first four months has declined and the patterns suggest the coronavirus crisis may have played a role in this

Theft in the first four months has declined and the patterns suggest the coronavirus crisis may have played a role in this.

Figures tabled in parliament last week show there were almost 300 fewer reported thefts by the end of April when compared to the first four months of last year.

Thefts from residences, pick-pocketing, and theft by clients from bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets, all decreased.

Since March, people have been urged to stay at home, while non-essential retail outlets, hotels and catering outlets were shut down to mitigate the spread of the virus. There has also been a greater police presence on the streets to prevent public gatherings, which may also have served as a deterrent.

This possibly contributed to 87 fewer (-42%) thefts from residences, 51 less (-49%) cases of thieving clients from restaurants and bars, 17 fewer cases (-57%) of theft by hotel residents and a decrease of 45 cases (-31%) of pick-pocketing.

Significantly, theft from vehicles decreased by 158, a 35% drop, in the first four months.

Theft from streets and public areas also declined, as did the number of muggings and cases classified by the police as ‘other theft’.

However, the figures presented by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri in reply to Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi, also show a worrying increase in the number of cases involving armed robbery.

There were 21 cases of armed robbery in the first four months, more than double the cases registered last year in the same period.

And with fewer people circling around, there were also more cases of theft from vacant residences, farms and fields, building sites and sea craft.

The figures show that until the end of April, 1,599 cases of theft were reported to the police, down from the 1,894 cases recorded last year in the same period.

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