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COVID fueling higher crime rates in East Bay after thousands of inmates released from jails

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CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KRON) — COVID continues to fuel higher crime rates in the East Bay as thousands of inmates have been released from county jails due to virus concerns.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said more repeat offenders who would normally be behind bars are now on the streets, and committing new crimes.

He said they are becoming more brazen.

This week in Castro Valley, multiple home invasions occurred while residents were in their homes. During one home invasion, an elderly 96-year-old man was held down by two robbers who stole his flip phone and $20.

The following day, a family was terrorized by men armed with guns who ransacked their apartment. The men told the victims to give them a five-minute head-start before calling 911 for help.

The home invaders have not yet been found or arrested.

Kelly said these robberies are “concerning.”

“It’s concerning that they would go to that level for that little amount of loot.”

“Crime in general is up. There is no doubt. You can go to any city in the Bay Area, any community, and you will definitely see an uptick in crime,” Kelly said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Alameda County Jail, one of the largest jails in California, has released 2,500 inmates who, according to Kelly, would normally have remained behind bars.

Arrests in Alameda County have dropped by 30% due to new COVID protocols.

“So if you factor in those with zero bail, and not holding people for crimes like theft and burglary that we normally would, repeat offenders get a little bolder because there are not as many consequences for doing that activity,” Kelly said.

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