Virginia’s official and only comprehensive report on local and statewide crime figures for 2017 is now available to the public on the Virginia State Police website. The annual “Crime in Virginia” report provides precise rates and occurrences of crimes committed in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth. The report breaks down criminal offenses by the reporting agency as well as arrests by jurisdiction.
Overall, Virginia experienced a 3.9 percent decrease in violent crime (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) compared to the previous reporting period. The FBI’s figures for 2017 are not yet available. However, comparing the first six months of 2016 with the first six months of 2017, nationwide, violent crimes decreased less than 1 percent (0.8 percent).
Property crime in Virginia, including the offenses of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, also decreased when compared to the previous year (- 2.6 percent). Although the FBI’s data for 2017 is not yet available, comparing the first six months of 2016 with the first six months of 2017, nationwide, there was a 2.9 percent decrease.
The following 2017 crime figures in Virginia are presented in the report:
●The number of reported homicides decreased from 480 to 455 or (-5.2 percent). Victims and offenders tended to be relatively young: 48 percent of homicide victims and 64 percent of offenders were less than 30 years of age. Victims and offenders were most likely to be male (72 percent, 86 percent respectively)
●Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts increased 3.9 percent compared to the previous year. Of the 10,223 motor vehicles stolen, 6,438 or 63 percent were recovered. Of all motor vehicles stolen, trucks had the highest frequency of being recovered (73 percent) followed by automobiles (68 percent). Recreational and “other” motor vehicles (motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles, etc.) were least likely to be recovered (49 percent, 39 percent respectively). Of all motor vehicles stolen, 43 percent were taken from the residence/home. The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $86,025,726.
●Drug and narcotic arrests increased when compared to the previous reporting period (15.6 percent). Where type of drug was known, 71 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana. Marijuana arrests increased 20.6 percent compared to the previous reporting period. Arrests for heroin and crack cocaine decreased (-3.2 percent, -3.0 percent respectively). Arrests for powder cocaine and amphetamines/methamphetamines increased (14.2 percent, 22.7 percent respectively).
●Fraud offenses decreased almost 4 percent (-3.8) compared to 2016.
●Of the 809 arsons and attempted arsons that were reported, nearly half (48.5 percent) reported the location as “residence/home.” Neither the time of the day nor the day of the week appears to be associated with this offense.
●Robbery decreased 10 percent. Of the 4,320 robberies and attempted robberies 42 percent took place between 8 p.m. and midnight. Days of the week showed little variability in terms of the number of robberies that took place although more took place on Friday and Saturday than any other days of the week.
●Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 74.6 percent of homicides and 58.2 percent of robberies. Firearms were used to a lesser extent in the offense of aggravated assault (27.3 percent).
●There were 202 hate crimes reported in 2017 representing a 47.4 percent increase compared to 2016. Over half (54 percent) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward religion and sexual orientation were next highest (22 percent, 19 percent, respectively). The remaining 5 percent reported was attributed to a bias against a victim’s physical or mental disability. Of all reported bias motivated crime, 46 percent was associated with destruction/damage/vandalism of property; another 40.6 percent was associated with the offense of assault.
The report employs an Incident Based Reporting (IBR) method for calculating offenses, thus allowing for greater accuracy. IBR divides crimes into two categories: Group A for serious offenses including violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault), property crimes and drug offenses, and Group B for what are considered less serious offenses such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations where an arrest has occurred.
For Group A offenses, between 2016 and 2017, adult arrests increased 4.3 percent. Juvenile arrests for Group A offenses also increased (1.6 percent). For Group B arrests, there was an increase of 1.8 percent for adults while juvenile Group B arrests decreased 9.9 percent. For both Group A and Group B offenses, there were a total of 282,987 arrests in 2017 compared to 276,144 arrests in 2016, representing an overall increase in arrests in Virginia of 2.5 percent.
Per state mandate, the Department of Virginia State Police serves as the primary collector of crime data from participating Virginia state and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The data are collected by the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division via a secured internet system. This information is then compiled into Crime in Virginia, an annual report for use by law enforcement, elected officials, media and the general public. These data become the official crime statistics for the Commonwealth and sent to the FBI incorporating them into their annual report, Crime in the United States.
-Submitted by Corinne N. Geller, Virginia State Police Public Relations Director