2020 crime data shows increased business burglaries and fewer traffic offenses

Data across three law enforcement agencies revealed 2020 had some significant impacts on crime across mid North Carolina.

The ABC11 I-Team requested crime data from the Durham Police Department, Fayetteville Police Department, Wake County Sheriff's Office and Raleigh Police Department.

The Raleigh Police Department has not provided the information.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses in early 2020, not everyone stayed out.

Retail burglaries increased by 83% in Durham and 97% in Fayetteville in 2020.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office reported only three fewer burglaries at commercial properties.

Elizabeth Robinson, the senior vice president at NC Retail Merchant Association, said this increase in crime hit businesses who were already navigating additional challenges caused by the pandemic.

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"I think it's just one added thing that they are having to work with as they are trying to keep their stores open and make sure they are complying with these orders to have fight this organized methods of crime at the same time," Robinson said.

Robinson has worked with businesses and police agencies across North Carolina for years to help reduce organized crime rings.

"Those groups are growing more and more sophisticated in order to obtain those higher dollar amounts of products and goods from sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands and for that reason we have seen a year over year increase," Robinson said.

All three departments reported a decrease in burglaries at homes.

Each departments also responded to fewer DWI incidents in 2020.

Traffic offenses were cut almost in half in Fayetteville, according to the Fayetteville Police Department's data.

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More time at home may have also had more negative impacts. The Fayetteville Police Department data shows more than 700 domestic violence incidents and close to 200 reports of child abuse were reported in 2020; a 32% increase for both.

The Durham Police Department also responded to 8% more domestic violence incidents.

"I think because of the COVID-19 pandemic, families are facing a tremendous amount of stress both financially and interpersonally and then you combine that with less access to resources and options because of the risk of COVID-19 and then those two factors combine create very unsafe situations," said Ryan Kelly, the associate director of Victim Services at InterAct in Wake County.

InterAct assists domestic and sexual violence survivors in Wake County.

The pandemic forced the organization to connect with their clients in new ways and Kelly said the pandemic also deterred some people from reaching out.

Domestic violence cases in Sandhills surge amid COVID-19 pandemic

"When someone is deciding to leave an abusive relationship it often is a process it requires time, support and coordination. For many people that process was interrupted when the pandemic initially hit last year so InterAct did see a decrease in clients reaching out to us," Kelly said.

She said because of this she wasn't surprised to hear the Wake County Sheriff's Office reported slightly fewer domestic violence incidents in 2020 (-3%).

"The number of reports doesn't always accurately reflect what is happening in the community and clients and survivors were facing barriers to engaging these systems," Kelly said.

Despite the initial decrease in calls to InterAct, Kelly said the number of high-risk cases actually rose.

"We think that's because some of the support and resources that survivors would typically access in order to leave an abusive situation were no longer available," Kelly said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual violence, InterAct is available 24/7 at 919-828-7740.

The ABC11 I-Team also uncovered the Wake County Sheriff's Office reported around half more shootings than in 2019. Meanwhile, Durham police responded to 48% more shootings.

Both the Durham Police Department and Fayetteville Police department did not agree to an interview on this data.
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