Coronavirus pandemic causing spike in certain crimes through the valley

The Cache County Sheriff's Complex (Will Feelright)

LOGAN — The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase of certain types of crimes in northern Utah. State health orders which had earlier closed schools and businesses, and still recommends social distancing, has led to an increase in 911 calls to law enforcement.

Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen said deputies are reporting a surge in complaints involving domestic violence, vehicle thefts, vandalism, and search and rescue emergencies. Many are believed to be because citizens are being forced to spend more time at home, changing their summer vacation plans.

“This is a tough time,” explained Jensen. “It’s not only because of COVID-19, which has forced us to spend more time with each other, that is hard for some families. Besides the coronavirus and being home, I think there is economic concerns that people have with jobs and businesses closing. These are strange times right now.

Several local organizations have launched programs to help individuals and families. They include the Family Place, Capsa, and the Juvenile Attention Center.

Jensen said deputies are also seeing more calls involving vehicles that have been broken into and trailers that were stolen. Most cases involved property not locked or secured properly.

“The keys were left in the ignition and the doors were unlocked. The trailers that were stolen were just parked in a parking lot but the hitches weren’t locked. It only takes about 10 seconds to back a truck up to a trailer, drop the ball and off you go. The vehicle burglaries were the same way. No smash and grabs. The doors are unlocked, and (thieves) are getting purses, computers, cellphones and other valuables that people are leaving in plain sight.”

Deputies encourage motorists to never leave keys inside a vehicle. Also, lock doors and roll up windows when leaving a car unattended. Valuables should also be stored inside a trunk or under a seat, where they are not visible.

Jensen explained that deputies are patrolling roads and the canyons more, as they’ve seen an increase in violations by motorcyclists and OHV riders. Laws for some of those vehicles have changed and vary from one city to another, making it confusing to know where they are legal.

“Because of some of the new laws, you can legally have OHV’s and UTV’s on the roadways if they’re registered and licensed. You don’t even have to be a licensed driver to have them on the road, if you have an OHV permit. So, we do get a lot kids and adults traveling the city streets, going from one canyon to another, which is causing some traffic problems within the cities. Plus, there is probably double or triple the amount of OHV’s and UTV’s in the mountains.”

Deputies encourage motorists to plan their routes, and check the state and local regulations for the areas they will be travelling through. Also follow speed limits and stay on the roads and trails.

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