The community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has affected crime levels and the way police have responded.
Crime dropped as people stayed home more and interacted less, according to local data. Stanwood police received fewer calls from businesses because they’re closed.
The police department also shut its doors to the public, offering limited services online, although staff were busy inside.
“I think Stanwood fared pretty well through this process,” Police Chief Rob Martin said. “We’ve had a 25% reduction in calls for service in the past month, but it’s starting to pick up. We were getting a lot done with the doors closed. It’s nice to play catch-up.”
Police monthly statistics show that for February, there were 948 incident calls — 248 more than a year before. Then as the pandemic officially arrived in March, calls dropped.
In March, there were 762 calls — 250 fewer than in March 2019. Year over year, there were 106 fewer calls in April and 165 fewer calls in May.
However, crime didn't completely disappear.
Someone attempted to take advantage of more people wearing masks in an effort to steal a lawn mower from a store that was closed, according to a police report.
The incident was captured on surveillance video. The store manager and a police officer recognized the suspect from previous contacts despite the mask. The suspect was arrested and booked into the Snohomish County Jail on April 30.
The man argued that authorities couldn’t positively identify him as the suspect because of his mask.
“That’s one for the ages right there. I think the judge is going to have a good time with that,” Martin said.
Data show larceny lower in February and March compared to last year before surging in May.
With fewer people on the roads, traffic collisions dropped in March, April and May. But June has already seen an uptick of collisions, totaling more than the nine in March and April combined, Martin said.
In May, domestic violence incidents nearly doubled after being consistently low in March and April. Martin said he attributed that to people feeling cooped up with pressure building over time. Domestic violence numbers are falling so far in June, he said.
“School is out, but we haven’t really seen any significant impacts. The only thing that hit Stanwood, as it did across the state, was employment security fraud,” Martin said. “For the most part, our community remains strong.”