Virginia crime down in economy

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - 2009 was considered one of the worst economic times in recent history. Yet, violent crimes in Virginia declined nearly 10 percent compared to 2008. Violent crimes include robbery, murder, rape, and aggravated assault. State police say they can't figure out why.

"When there is a down turn in the economy generally speaking crime goes up, that hasn't occurred, no, why? That's the $64,000 question," said Norman Westerburg, Program Manager Uniform Crime Reporting.

Data is collected once a month from almost 300 jurisdictions, here's what state police found:

There were almost 5,000 sexually assaulted victims last year, a decline from 2008. It happened most in October with 171 cases. Nearly 350 people were murdered, statewide, in 2009. That number also down from the previous year. The most happened in April with forty deaths.

Analysts say generally, crime follows a consistent trend.

"A lot of these types of offenses tend to happen in the warmer months," said Westerberg.

In fact, the spring and summer are especially busy times for thieves. While car thefts, overall, were down about 13 percent last year -- most of them did happen in the dog days of summer: August. And most of them were stolen from someone's home.

Speaking of your house, last may, there was a slight bump-up in burglaries compared to previous months, but the most break-ins happened in July and October with almost 3,000 of them reported.

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