- Umeå Today investigation: almost no violent crimes reported in city since pandemic began
- Infection case numbers stabilize for second straight day; holiday weekend is suspected reason
- Holmsund, Sävar, Obbola bus service to change rules
- As Umeå’s aurora-hunting season fades away, so does a heavenly coronavirus pastime
ÅLIDHEM – An investigation by Umeå Today has revealed that since the coronavirus crisis began, police have reported almost no violent crimes in the city. This finding comes after national police said on Friday that across Sweden, the rate of violent crime dropped by almost 10 percent in March versus the previous year. The rate of reported crimes against children decreased some 17 percent. Other major crimes, such as theft and fraud, have also seen lower reported rates. Police speculate that changes in behavior due to the pandemic are the reason for the drop.
Umeå Today reviewed the entire city public police records from January 1 until today, and found that since March 2 — the day the first coronavirus case was reported in Umeå — one single violent crime has been reported to regional police. This was a suspected assault in a restaurant in the city center on April 2, when two minors allegedly pointed a green laser pointer at staff, which constitutes assault because green laser pointers can cause eye damage. On March 20, a woman speaking on her mobile phone was reported to have been threatened by a drunken person on a bus in Teg, but whether or not the threat was violent was unclear.
In the previous month — that is, before the pandemic arrived in Umeå — violent crimes were reported more frequently, with assaults on February 10, 14, and 17.
“At the moment, we notice that generally, fewer crimes are occurring, and there is a connection to the coronavirus pandemic,” said the head of the national police’s coronavirus task force, Håkan Wall. “A probable cause is that fewer people are moving around outdoors, visiting entertainment establishments, and so on,” he continued.
He also said that coronavirus has also probably had an impact on the reported rate of crimes against children, as well as rape, which has decreased by about seven percent. In late March, Umeå’s Left Party Parliamentarian-elect Gudrun Nordborg expressed to Umeå Today her worries that families living together in social isolation might be more prone to violence against women and children. She also said she was concerned about fraud, as scammers could easily take advantage of older people living alone.
However, reported fraud, too, has seen a national decrease of about eight percent. In Umeå, two cases of fraud were reported in the pandemic period, on March 19 and 20. In both cases, the suspect used a mobile phone SIM card that he registered under a different person’s identity.
Nationally, reported vandalism rates have also decreased by some 2.5 percent, although Umeå Today has reported an increase in vandalism in Umeå since the crisis began, including “ALL COPS ARE TARGETS” being spray painted on the University Police Education Building.
One type of crime has seen a major report of increase during the pandemic: drug offences. Police statistics show that they have increased by six percent nationally, compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, coronavirus case numbers have remained relatively constant since yesterday, with no change in the number of confirmed infections — 182 in Västerbotten — a drop of two patients in the hospital — now, 20 — and a rise of two patients in intensive care, now 10. Yesterday, regional officials said they suspect that confirmed infections have been stabilizing, because fewer people are getting tested for the virus during this holiday weekend.
Länstsrafiken, Umeå’s bus operator, has put new hygiene rules into place for its service to and from Umeå and Holmsund, Obbola, and Sävar, according to Västerbottens-Kuriren. Travelers will now have to use the rear doors to get on the bus, and also show their tickets there, the paper says. The rules take effect on April 14.
Finally, the aurora-hunting season unofficially ended this weekend, slowly pausing one scintillating way for people to get outside and active during the pandemic. Friday was the final night for the sky to be entirely devoid of sunlight for at least some period, as Umeå gets increasingly brighter in the approach to the summer solstice. Seeing the Northern Lights, then, becomes exponentially harder from now until the late summer.
Fredrik Larsson, an Umeå-based photographer and head of the “Umeå Aurora Hunters” Facebook group with almost 10,000 members, told Umeå Today that “people can go out hunt for aurora even though we have a pandemic. Mostly because when you hunt, you rarely go in large groups. Mostly by yourself,” he said.
“I can imagine that a lot of people hesitate to go outside and hunt due to the fact that they won’t meet people since they go out partly because they want to socialize,” he said, but added, “Some people see the aurora hunting as a way to go outside, often late and in bad weather, as well since being at home could be rather boring and take its toll on people.”
Larsson said that the pandemic has changed aurora-hunting in Umeå. “I dont think that as many people go outside now,” he said, “just because they don’t want to meet people. Before, they wanted to meet people while outside hunting. We don’t have a season-ending barbecue, like we used to do.”