NEW BEDFORD — With all the cold and snow this season — and the forecast of possibly more at midweek — most people bundle up and stay indoors if they can.
Turns out crime does just that, as well. It moves indoors and police have to work differently.
Detective Kyle Costa of the Dartmouth Police Deparment said there are fewer car break-ins, stolen cars and robberies in winter.
“People just don’t want to be outside,” Costa said.
That said, crime does not disappear.
“When people are pent up inside the house, we are bound to have more domestics” and alcohol-related crimes, he said.
In New Bedford, Detective Capt. Steven Vicente said he also sees a rise in domestic assaults. He said outdoor crime rates don’t drop for winter, though. He said he only notices a drop in outdoor crimes “whenever we get a cold snap” and temperatures are low for three or four days.
“There’s (fewer) people on the street, there’s less activity in the street, and crime goes down,” he said. “It’s obvious … you notice that police incidents are down, everything seems to slow down.”
One benefit of a snowy winter is that sometimes the bad guys leave tracks. Literally. That happened recently in Fairhaven, and Westport Detective Jeffrey Majewski said that town has also tracked criminals by following their footprints.
“That does happen, and it’s no different than following tire tracks in the snow,” Majewski said.
Another factor in crime-fighting in winter is response time hindered by bad roads.
“For that reason, we would add extra patrols,” Majewski said, so police can get to people more quickly. “That’s a prudent measure for any police department to undertake.”
Majewski also said police might escort emergency vehicles such as ambulances to make sure they get to where they have to go.
And police focus on keeping the streets clear after accidents, he said.
“The number of car crashes goes up significantly, so we keep more tow trucks on standby.”
“It’s definitely a unique circumstance with snow,” Majewski said. “You have to deal with it (and) you have to push on.”