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Icelandic police
Photo: Lögregla.

Police on Alert for Rise in Quarantine-Related Crimes

Police are closely monitoring cybercrime, crimes committed in the home, and domestic drug production while Icelanders are (self-)quarantining and the gathering ban is in effect, Vísir reports. The ban, which went into effect this week, prohibits gatherings of 20 or more people and is intended to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Fréttablaðið reports that there’s already a shortage of cocaine in the country, as passenger flights have ground to a halt. According to Capital-area police chief Karl Steinar Valsson, people staying home more may also lead to a spike in these crimes.

A COVID-related slow in imports and a reduction of travellers entering the country has considerably reduced the availability of illegal substances like cocaine in Iceland. Fréttablaðið’s sources report that most of the country’s supplies have run dry and what little is left is being kept under wraps to drive up prices. Amphetamine is still available and domestic production of marijuana can respond to demand. Karl Steinar noted that the sale of narcotics is where organized crime makes the majority of its money. As such, when it becomes challenging to import drugs, these organizations are quick to start producing them domestically. “If there’s a temporary shortage of cocaine,” he explained, “then amphetamines are produced instead. That’s, of course, what we’ve seen before.”

As the gathering ban has put a temporary stop to weekend partying at bars and clubs in Iceland, Karl Steinar says that changes in users’ consumption patterns must be taken into account as well. However, he says that it is currently unclear how these changes will manifest. Fréttablaðið’s sources add that “businessmen who’ve been coming two, three times a week have stopped buying and are spending time with their families instead.”

Karl Steinar told reporters that it’s too early to say if there’s been a significant increase in criminal activity in the wake of the ban but says, for instance, that burglaries of businesses can be expected to increase while most employees work from home. An increase in domestic abuse is also a concern. “There are a lot of people working from home, and so naturally, there could be a rise in crimes committed in the home. We’ve haven’t yet seen this happen, but we’re monitoring very closely, both domestic violence and child abuse and crimes of that nature.”

Cybercrime is also likely to increase, he continued. “People are shopping online a lot and doing all sorts of things online from home that weren’t being done to the same extent before. There are thousands of websites popping up that offer you all kinds of protective devices to prevent you from being infected [with COVID-19]. They are offering products that have clearly not been certified or anything like that.”

 

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