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SLO Holiday crime rate indicates return to pre-pandemic times 

It wasn't all revelry for the city of San Luis Obispo this holiday season. The city saw an uptick in crime rates, which police think is a sign that crime patterns are returning to a pre-pandemic state.

Data from the SLO Police Department showed that crime reports climbed by 26 percent over Nov. 26, 2021, to Jan. 3, 2022, (the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's celebrations), compared to the same dates in the 2020-21 time period.

Reports of property theft, aggravated and non-aggravated assaults, alcohol-related crimes, vehicle theft, and both residential and non-residential burglaries rose during the holidays. Alerts about robberies and auto burglaries decreased.

"It is very difficult to compare anything to last year given the COVID pandemic and how it changed the landscape of the city. Many students stayed home, businesses were opened reduced hours and/or reduced capacities," SLOPD Operations Capt. Brian Amoroso told New Times via email. "There are definitely more people out and about this past year over the holidays than 2020-21. As an example, there are not a lot of drunk in public arrests and DUIs if the bars are all closed."

People attempting to return to a pre-COVID-19 lifestyle also influenced when crimes happened. In the 2021-22 holiday season, reports of criminal activity were highest on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. But during the 2020-21 holiday season, weekends saw the highest concentration.

"Students are back in town. Residents are mostly back to work. People tend to report things to the police at the beginning of the week instead of using time on the weekends," Amoroso said.

click to enlarge SMASH-AND-GRAB Vandals broke into the Mission Thrift Store, stole items totaling up to $500, and destroyed a display case and the cash register. - PHOTO COURTESY OF OLD MISSION SCHOOL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Old Mission School
  • SMASH-AND-GRAB Vandals broke into the Mission Thrift Store, stole items totaling up to $500, and destroyed a display case and the cash register.

Most recently, the Mission Thrift Store was robbed in the early hours of Tuesday, Jan. 4, when vandals smashed the shop's windows and stole items totaling up to $500.

"Our thrift store manager got the phone call from the alarm company around 5 a.m. saying that the store had been broken into. When she went to the store, she saw the window was shattered. They made their way to one of the display cases and ravaged the cash register," said Melissa Newman, the director of marketing and enrollment at the Old Mission School.

Luckily, the cash register was empty because Mission Thrift doesn't leave money in the register overnight. The destroyed register was replaced with one that a community member donated.

Stolen items included pocketknives, art supplies, and vintage playing cards. Newman said that the thrift store manager, Michelle Orradre, was concerned about the pocketknives theft since they could be used as a weapon later on.

Repairing the broken window cost an additional $200, and Orradre is nervous about the store being forced to pay for more damages. The store's sales make up nearly 10 percent of the Old Mission School's budget, Newman said.

"I touched base with the manager over there and she said the theft and break-in is a toll emotionally and financially; she now feels unsettled being there alone at night/early mornings," Newman said.

Amoroso said that SLOPD doesn't have any break-in suspects presently, and they're trying to obtain potential video footage of the incident.

"One of the best ways to protect yourself and your property is to lock your doors and windows in your home and vehicle. Do not leave anything of value in plain sight, or in a vehicle at all if possible," he said. "Be aware of your surroundings. Report suspicious activity to the police. Aware citizens can be a force multiplier for law enforcement." Δ


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