crime

Sierra Vista Police Department officers prepare to investigate a crime scene last year.

To be sure, COVID-19’s arrival in Sierra Vista had its effects on certain crimes.

Some skyrocketed during the initial onset of the virus between April and June 2020, and others decreased but then increased as the pandemic and its aftershocks began reverberating in the city and the rest of Cochise County.

Police say violent crimes are usually committed by perpetrators familiar to their victims.

The city for example, had one homicide in the fall of 2020 and the accused killer and the victim knew each other well, investigators said.

As for other violent crimes such as aggravated assault, the city had a total of 30 between January and March 2020. When the pandemic began creeping in, aggravated assaults dropped significantly to 17. But as the pandemic dragged on between July and September, aggravated assaults crept up again to 23, police said.

Robberies went the same route as aggravated assaults. Between January and March there were six, police said. When COVID-19 arrived in the spring, no robberies occurred between April and June. Again, when the virus began wearing out its welcome between July and September, robberies then jumped to four.

Burglaries were another story, starting with 26 from January to March. When the pandemic started however, burglaries in the city jumped to 32 between April and June, police said. They dropped between July and September, to 25. Larcenies seem to be the only offense that actually had a steady decrease from January to September, police said. They went from 230 for the three-month stretch between January and March to 181 between July and September.

Police said the steady descent occurred because of a drop in shoplifting and vehicle burglaries.

Sierra Vista Police Chief Adam Thrasher recently said shoplifting decreased during the start of the pandemic because businesses were closed and people were staying home.

Police did respond to more calls for criminal damage and criminal trespassing from July to September. Authorities said the increases in these offenses likely were prompted by

increased traffic at local establishments as pandemic restrictions were relaxed briefly during those months.

One crime that escalated during the start of the pandemic was arson, police said. While there was one arson between January and March, there was a significant spike between April and June to 11 arsons. That dropped to five between July and September.

The start of the pandemic in the city also brought with it a jump in domestic violence calls. There were 272 incidents between January and March, and that grew to 302 between April and June. Ther incidents did drop to 274 between July and September.

Police have said that the loss of employment, as well as the closure of schools at the start of COVID-19, heaped additional pressure on families that were already facing challenges under pre-COVID circumstances.

The onslaught of the virus also ignited calls for suicidal subjects. There had been a steady decrease in such incidents from October 2019 until March 2020. But between April and June, police responded to 80 suicide calls in the city.

The calls are not only time consuming, but labor intensive. Several officers are usually sent to such calls for safety reasons, police said.