VA Crime Report: Rise In Larcenies, Support Heroin Addictions

SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. - Virginia's annual crime report is out, and officials in Winchester, Frederick County, Berryville and Clarke County say their crime rates for 2013 are faring a little bit better than the rest of the state.

"What [the report is] good for is examining cities of similar size, similar size police departments, similar size population to see how their incident per thousand population, how we compare that way,” said Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher with the Winchester Police Department.

While the numbers look good, all jurisdictions are focused on fighting the heroin epidemic, that tipped last year with 21 overdose deaths in the area.

"Right now we're having a tough problem with heroin, and heroin drug overdoses,” said Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper. “We see folks that are stealing things, and we can directly tie the things that they steal into the support of their heroin problem."

"They have to find other means of supporting their habit, so one of those ways is to steal somewhere, somehow,” said Captain Donald Lang with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

"We are seeing rises in larcenies that are associated with narcotics use,” said Berryville Police Chief Neil White. “Breaking and entering and petty larcenies, where they do what we call bumping cars, just pulling on door handles to see if the car is open."

Larceny and petty theft was up in Winchester, Frederick County, Berryville and Clarke County.

"It does kind of follow the Virginia trend, where the calls are down, but our arrests are actually up because of all these larcenies. A lot of it is associated with larcenies and narcotics," said White.

"We really look at the whole picture, and we want to send a message to the bad guys, that Winchester is not a place to come and do bad things," said Sanzenbacher.

Frederick County, Berryville and Clarke County are sending the same message to the bad guys.

For the full crime report, follow this link.

The following 2013 crime figure highlights are courtesy of Virginia State Police, and presented in the report:

  • Virginia experienced a decline in violent crime (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) of 1.6 percent compared to 2012, less of a decline of the 3.0 percent decrease comparing 2011 with 2012. The FBI figures for the most recent reporting period of time are not yet available. 

  • Property crime such as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft continued to decrease for the previous year (3.9 percent) which was even greater than between 2011 and 2012, a decrease of 3.3 percent. The FBI figures for the most recent reporting period of time are not yet available. 

  • The homicide rate per 100,000 population remained the same for 2013 (3.84) as in 2012 (3.86). Based on the ages reported, victims tended to be older than offenders; 20 percent of homicide victims were 50 years of age or older, while only 11 percent of offenders were in the same age group of 50 and older. 

  • Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts decreased 6 percent.  Of the 8,396 motor vehicles stolen, 4,480 or just over one-half were recovered (53.4%). Trucks and automobiles stolen had the highest percent recovered (65%, 63%, respectively), while recreational and "other" motor vehicles (motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles, etc.) had the lowest percent recovered (36%, 32.1%). Nearly four-out-of-10 (39.2%) of all motor vehicle offenses were reported stolen from the location of a residence or home. The value of all motor vehicles stolen and attempts to steal was $57,927,170, while the value recovered was $32,225,988 (55.6%). 

  • Drug and narcotic offenses showed slight decreases in 2009 (-2.5%) and 2008 (-3.5%). For the past four years drug offenses have increased (5.3% in 2010, 7.1% in 2011, 9.4% for 2012 and 3.8% in 2013) in Virginia.

  • Fraud offenses increased by 7.6 percent when compared to 2012. 

  • Robbery decreased 3.7 percent. Of the 4,555 robberies and attempted robberies, just over one-third (34%) took place between 8 p.m. and midnight. The days of the week showed little variability with a separation of less than 2 percent between the highest and lowest numbers reported. 

  • Of the weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were the most frequently used in homicides (70%), followed by robberies (55%) and aggravated assaults (20%).  

  • There were 123 hate crimes reported in 2013. Nearly two-thirds or 61 percent were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward religion was next highest with 24 percent while bias toward sexual orientation comprised 11 percent. The remaining 4 percent reported was attributed to a bias against a victim's physical or mental disability. The offense of destruction/damage/vandalism of property was associated with 47 percent of all reported bias motivated crimes while 44 percent of reported hate crimes involved assaults

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