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2020.04.06 17:00

Street crime down, but domestic violence up during quarantine – Lithuanian police

Giedrius Vitkauskas, LRT TV, LRT.lt2020.04.06 17:00

Crime rates have fallen by a fifth since the start of the coronavirus quarantine, Lithuania's police say. However, domestic violence has shot up by just as much.

Since March 16, when Lithuania instituted a nationwide quarantine, police officers have been spending more times patrolling public places to see that people are observing social distancing.

During this time, reported crime has fallen by almost 20 percent, Police Commissioner General Renatas Požela says, whereas serious crime has almost halved.

Read more: Domestic violence second most common crime in Lithuania

At the same time, as many people are forced to stay at home, the already high rates of domestic violence in the country have grown by also about one fifth, according to Požela.

Online fraud has also been on the rise.

“We expect that there will be more of such [online] crimes, as trends in Europe and the world show,” Požela says.

As grocery shops remain the only open outlets during the quarantine, their owners fear that they will become targets for robbers, especially in remote areas.

“At the moment, food shops effectively remain the only operating businesses in regions [...] and the only places where someone who wants to steal money or things can go,” says Simas Bendorius, the director of Koops Mažmena which works with retail cooperatives.

With fewer people in the streets, there are more opportunities for robbers. Small businesses cannot afford additional security measures, Bendorius adds, and they would appreciate if the police patrolled more often and pursued robbery investigations more aggressively.

“We have approved a plan of measures which includes contacting rural shop owners and staying in touch,” Požėla, the police commissioner general, assures. “To share information so that when our patrols come to a rural area, they don't just drive past [a shop], but come over and check out the situation.”

Read more: LRT FACTS. Are Lithuanian cities 'deadliest' in Europe and is drinking to blame?