Packages and bikes went missing in April as Cambridge residents stayed home.
Total crime increased 21 percent during the month of April compared to the previous month, according to the Cambridge Police Department’s monthly crime report. Property crime increased by 22 percent and violent crime increased by 13 percent, including the city's first murder in over 15 months.
The numbers come during the continued spread of the coronavirus, which has prompted Governor Charlie D. Baker ’79 to extend a statewide stay-at-home advisory from May 4 to May 18.
In Cambridge alone, there have been 840 positive cases and 69 COVID-19 deaths as of May 10.
Property crime surged by 22 percent as thieves targeted bike racks, vehicles, and residential door steps. Last month, break-ins of motor vehicles skyrocketed from 10 incidents in March to 34 incidents and bike thefts rose from 22 incidents to 34 incidents.
CPD spokesperson Jeremy Warnick said the department published a notice on its website in mid-April warning the public of an increase in package thefts and car break-ins.
“There were kind of larger scale operations going on, particularly with package thefts,” Warnick said in an interview. “In one case, we had a suspect going into lobbies of apartment dwellings, grabbing handfuls of boxes, bringing them out to a car which was being driven by another perpetrator, and going back into other dwellings.”
Violent crime also increased slightly during the month of April, from 16 cases in March to 18 cases last month. On April 23, CPD reported a homicide case on Harvard Avenue, where a suspect was arrested for fatally stabbing a homeless man.
Still, April saw a slight decrease in total criminal incidents compared to last year. April 2019 saw 175 incidents; 156 incidents occurred last month.
In response to the pandemic, CPD and emergency services in Cambridge have taken precautions to curb the spread of the virus among employees. In late March, the department transitioned many services over the phone and restructured officers’ work hours to longer but fewer shifts. CPD has also deferred many of its calls to the Cambridge Fire Department as well as Pro EMS, the city’s local ambulance provider.
—Staff writer Charles Xu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @charles_xu_27.