It’s been a hot summer across the country thus far … and that’s not just because of the soaring temperatures.
The world remains in the midst of a pandemic, one that has ebbed and flowed for the last four months in the United States, but has not, as of yet, gone away. Economic tensions are high as businesses are forced to adapt to new restrictions caused by the COVID-19 crisis, or not allowed to open at all.
In the last two months, since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, civil unrest has exploded across the nation, with images of both peaceful protests and violent confrontations streamed into our living rooms nightly. And now, it appears crime is on the rise as well.
This week, Cheshire Police Chief Neil Dryfe confirmed to The Herald that the town has seen an increase in car thefts in recent weeks. Such crime has always been an issue for the community, but there’s no question an uptick has occurred.
Dryfe isn’t ready to blame the spike on the pandemic, as that would simply be guesswork on his part and not backed up by explicit data. But in looking for reasons as to why this year would be different than last, one is forced to ask, what has changed from 2019 to 2020? There could be many answers to that question, but one jumps out as obvious.
Cheshire is fortunate in a sense, as the town hasn’t seen a rise in violent crime, just thefts. That’s not so in many other areas of the country, especially America’s biggest cities. New York reports that homicides are up 23 percent over the first half of 2020 while Chicago saw its homicides jump 39 percent in late June and early July. Los Angeles reported a double-digit rise in killings over the last two months.
Cities from Indianapolis to Detroit have all reported a dramatic rise in violence, as have municipalities closer to home.
As of July 14, New Haven was reporting that non-fatal shootings had risen 48 percent over the previous year. Overall, homicides are also up, but only slightly. All of it led to what the city described as an “emergency meeting” last week to address the issue.
Again, Cheshire isn’t seeing anything like that happen within its borders. There’s been no wave of violence to report; the community remains one of the safest in the state.
And while car thefts are on the rise, residents can take some easy steps to prevent their vehicles from being a target. Most thieves remain on the lookout for an easy break-in, and nothing makes things easier for would-be criminals than a set of keys left in a car. Simply ensuring that your keys are in your pocket and your vehicle is locked, even when parked in your drive way at home, can go a long way to deterring a thief.
But right now, it appears everyone could benefit from a little bit of heightened caution. Paranoia is never called for, but being aware of the realities of our current situation is.
Be careful to protect your property. Be mindful of the simple steps you can take to discourage someone from targeting your vehicle. And be aware of the fact that, in these most uncertain times, protecting yourself and your loved ones should be paramount.