Crime in NP ‘evened out’ in second half of 2020, but declined overall

Crime in NP ‘evened out’ in second half of 2020, but declined overall

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Violent crimes in many communities increased during the 2020 pandemic year, but not in North Providence, where overall crimes against persons were down 5 percent, from 235 to 223 total.

Crimes against property were also generally down, with the exception of some larceny and robbery charges, seeing a decrease of 4 percent overall, or 411 total cases in 2019 to 394 cases in 2020, according to data provided by Chief of Police Arthur Martins.

Total crime instances in North Providence were down by about 7 percent, from 1,450 in 2019 to 1,354 cases in 2020.

Martins told The North Providence Breeze that after a story last summer on crime being down during the pandemic, “it started to even out” as life got back to more of a normal state heading into the fall. One area that evened out in a downward trend later in the year was domestic violence cases, which ended the year at 254 compared to 250 a year earlier.

There were 2,595 total offense reports taken in 2019, dropping to 2,240 total reports in 2020. Arrests were also down overall, with 1,218 in 2019 and 1,142 in 2020. Total calls for service were down only slightly, from 38,302 in 2019 to 37,866 in 2020, according to the data.

One outlier in the data can be found in drug charges and other “crimes against society,” with drug/narcotic violations, drug equipment violations, weapons law violations, and pornography/obscene materials increasing a combined 51 percent. Drug violations were up 59 percent, from 22 in 2019 to 35 in 2020, and weapon violations were up 29 percent, from 14 to 18.

Martins said most drug charges were related to driver stops for other offenses, and they could be related to anything from a small amount of marijuana to large-scale heroin possession. Such offenses are “usually a secondary discovery,” he said, and can be “hit or miss” depending on who gets stopped.

On violent crimes, the town saw no murders in 2020, down from one killing in 2019, while kidnapping stayed even, with one each year. Rape cases doubled, from two to four, while other sex-based crimes decreased from nine in 2019 to five in 2020.

Aggravated assaults increased by 5 percent, from 38 in 2019 to 40 last year. Simple assaults decreased by 12 percent, from 176 total cases to 155 cases, while intimidation cases were up 125 percent, from eight in 2019 to 18 in 2020.

In the crimes against property categories, larcenies related to vehicles were up, while robberies from buildings were down.

Robberies were up from two cases in 2019 to seven last year, arsons were up one, from two to three crimes, burglary/breaking and entering cases were down 38 percent, from 50 cases to 31 cases, pick-pocketing and extortion blackmail each saw one case in 2020, after none in 2019, shoplifting cases were down 45 percent, from 44 to 24, and larcenies from buildings were down 14 percent, from 21 cases to 18.

Martins said the much lower numbers of incidents of breaking and entering is almost entirely due to more people being at home in 2020. Similarly, with fewer people being on the road, there was a big reduction in collisions, from 1,108 to 861, or a reduction of more than 20 percent.

The increase from two to seven robberies is significant, he said, and he attributes in part to there being more opportunity for people to easily hide behind masks to commit crimes such as robbing banks or convenience stores.

Larcenies of motor vehicles were up 13 percent, from 30 to 34 cases, larcenies of vehicle parts were up 67 percent, from 12 to 20, all other larcenies were up 62 percent, from 21 to 34, motor vehicle theft cases were down 6 percent, from 50 to 47, and counterfeit/forgery cases were up 85 percent, from 13 to 24.

The “all other” larcenies category was largely due to the work of porch pirates stealing packages, said Martins.

Fraud cases related to false pretenses and swindling were up 31 percent, from 16 cases to 21, credit card cases were up one, from 10 to 11, and fraud impersonation cases were down one, from two to one.

Other fraud/embezzlement categories were down from 11 cases in 2019 to two cases in 2020, while stolen property cases remained even at eight and eight. Vandalism cases were down 11 percent, from 121 to 108.

Cases involving bad checks being passed were down 56 percent, from nine to four, disorderly conduct cases were down 4 percent, from 243 to 233, DUI offenses were down 26 percent, from 82 to 61, non-violent family offenses were even, at four each year, liquor law violations were down from one to zero, and offenses related to trespassing were down 33 percent, from six to four.

Martins said some people will want to point to the fact that having bars closed contributed to fewer DUI cases, but he said the 61 cases showed there were still plenty of people finding a way to get intoxicated and be “a menace” behind the wheel.

All other offenses were down 11 percent, from 422 to 375.

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