The rate of crime has not increased in Ukraine. Compared to 2021, in 2022 the overall crime rate in Ukraine decreased by 25%. Serious crimes remained at approximately the same level as 2021.
Some news sites, social media groups, as well as anonymous Telegram channels are spreading disinformation claiming that crime in Ukraine has increased by 270% as a result of mass weapons distribution in the first months of the war.
“Due to a shortage of personnel and a large number of weapons in hand, the number of serious crimes has increased in Ukraine, primarily murders and robberies,” writes the propagandist publication Ukraina.ru.
The source of this disinformation is Resident, an anonymous Telegram channel which claims to have inside information from the President’s Office and other government bodies, but is just another faceless account that systematically peddles Russian disinformation. Earlier this year the Ukrainian Security Service and Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate announced that the Resident Telegram channel is a Kremlin coordinated channel through which Russian special services put out fake information to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.
Citing an anonymous source in the Office of the President, Resident claims that Ukraine’s Interior Minister allegedly reported a 270% increase in crime as a result of the large number of weapons distributed to the population. The Resident Telegram account does specify a particular period in which this alleged spike was observed.
These claims do not correspond with official data released by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. On July 26 the Interior Ministry’s Press Service reported that a decrease in crime was noted in the first two months of Russia’s war against Ukraine. According to the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigations Department, overall crime in Ukraine fell by 25% over the course of the first six months of 2022, compared with the same period of the previous year. The number of burglaries, robberies and muggings has decreased.
Data from the General Prosecutor’s office also indicate a decrease in “domestic” crime: the number of thefts decreased from 57,516 in January-May 2021 to 27,613 for the same period in 2022, robberies fell from 2,189 to 1,007, assaults – from 444 to 287.
The Interior Ministry explains the general decrease in crime by the mass migration of people within the country and abroad, the introduction of a curfew, and the synergy between law enforcement officers and territorial defense. Another reason, as noted by Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs, potential offenders went to fight in the Armed Forces of Ukraine against Russian aggression.
At the same time, the National Police has recorded a crime increase in those regions where active hostilities took place or are taking place. Over the course of the last six months, compared to 2021, the number of premeditated murders increased by more than 9%. This increase is driven by military aggression and murders committed by the Russian military in currently occupied and formerly occupied territories. Law enforcement officers are also noting 86% increase in vehicle theft compared to the same period in 2021. A significant part of such crimes in the occupied territories is committed by both the Russian military and Ukrainian citizens remaining there.
According to Vadym Dziubynsky, the head of the National Police Criminal Investigation Department, there are almost no auto theft cases in territories where active hostilities are not taking place. Such crimes mostly occur in the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk and the de-occupied areas of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.
Appearing on Ukrainian television, First Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin explained that a spike in crime rates in de-occupied territories is expected. “Its kind of a natural process, as people return to their home, they see traces of burglaries. It is not completely clear whether this was done by the Russian occupants or simply occurred when people were not home. We record all these instances and attempt to investigate these crimes” Yenin said.
The Ministry of the Interior also notes an increase in crimes related to the illegal circulation of weapons and crimes committed with the use of weapons. According to the General Prosecutor’s office, in the first five month of 2021 141 crimes involving firearms were committed compared with 621 in the same period this year.
“During active hostilities, we have many unaccounted for and lost weapons, which often end up on peaceful territory, where they are further distributed, and used to commit various types of crimes. Therefore, we are intensifying work in this direction,” the National Police said.
In May StopFake debunked a similar fake story Fake: Shops looted, civilians shot after Ukraine arms civilians