Fraud crimes across the region almost doubled during the lockdown, according to a new report.
The Highlands and Islands division’s performance figures for April to June show crimes in this category increased from 70 to 139 year-on-year. The number in Shetland also increased from three to six.
Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, divisional commander, said the rise was of “great concern” as it showed tat fraudsters were exploiting vulnerable people during a challenging time.
“Online, banking and romance frauds, as well as bogus callers, are still of great concern to Police Scotland, with the addition of scammers now preying on people’s fears about coronavirus,” he said.
“We remain vigilant to these types of despicable crimes and will continue to work alongside our partners and other organisations to provide alerts and publicise preventative messages across our channels and within local communities.
“I ask the public to remain extremely vigilant and keep an eye on those more vulnerable – please visit the Police Scotland website for further information and advice.”
The report also showed detection rates for crimes had increased from 66-69.5 per cent; while public confidence in policing increased by 20 percentage points during the pandemic.
Total crime figures have remained static, which police said demonstrated that the region remains one of the safest places in Scotland.
During the pandemic, police said high-visibility patrols and enhanced community engagement had been key to support our communities.
The force urged communities to keep an eye on those at potential risk.
Mr Trickett said that the reporting period covered an “unprecedented time” for Scotland.
He said it was therefore not surprising to see a rise in some categories of crime, such as antisocial behaviour, much of which was linked to calls from the public over suspected breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
The report also highlighted an increase in drink/drug driving offences, which it attributed to an increased use of detection kits.
Last week, Chief Inspector Lindsay Tulloch, confirmed drink and drug driving increases had also increased in Shetland.
Mr Trickett said: “Any offence on our roads is extremely disappointing, particularly at a time when we should all have been playing our part to avoid putting additional pressure on the emergency services.
“However thanks to proactive patrols and support from the road policing division, Police Scotland has stopped a number of drink/drug drivers and will continue to take this robust action.
“Information from the public is vital to help us target drivers who put others at risk and I encourage people to report such unacceptable driving behaviour to us..”
Mr Trickett thanked the public for its support.
“Our police officers, staff and special constables have worked tirelessly throughout the ongoing health pandemic to support our communities who, in turn, have shown us overwhelming support.
“Our approach to local restrictions has reflected the consistent approach taken by Police Scotland since the outset of this pandemic – engaging, educating and encouraging people to comply, as we all support the public health efforts to stop the spread of the virus.”