Virginia’s annual crime report shows increase in violent crime for 2019

Virginia’s annual crime report shows increase in violent crime for 2019
(Source: WTOC)

RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) - On Friday, May 29, the Virginia State Police Department released its annual “Crime in Virginia” report for 2019.

It’s the state’s official and only comprehensive report breaking down local and statewide crime figures for the year, with a breakdown of precise rates and occurrences of crimes in towns, cities, and counties across Virginia.

It includes both reports of every type of crime and arrests made for those crimes broken down by each local law enforcement agency.

On an overall level, it distinguishes between violent and non-violent crimes.

According to the Virginia State Police definitions, which are based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, violent crime includes “the offenses of murder, forcible sex offenses (rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling), robbery and aggravated assault.”

With those crimes considered, overall, Virginia witnessed a 2.45% increase in violent crime from 2018 to 2019, with 18,717 violent crimes reported in 2019 compared to 18,269 violent crimes in 2018.

According to VSP, they are removing ‘forcible fondling’ from violent crime data statistics due to an updated rape definition in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. That exclusion reflects a total of 16,018 violent crimes reported in 2019.

Here are some key takeaways for Virginia overall from the 2019 report:

  • The number of reported homicides increased from 391 to 428 (up 9.5%). Victims and suspects tended to be younger males; 37.2% of homicide victims were men between 18 and 34 and 52.2% of offenders were men between 18 and 34. Nearly half (46.7%) of all homicides occurred at a residence/home.
  • Vehicle thefts and attempted thefts decreased 4.2% compared to the previous year, with 10,575 vehicles stolen in 10,044 offenses in 2019, compared to 11,040 vehicles reported stolen in 10,472 offenses in 2018. A total of 6,252 vehicles were recovered in 2019 (vehicles may have been stolen prior to 2019). Of all vehicles stolen, 41.3% were taken from someone’s home. The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $99,358,971.
  • Drug and narcotic arrests decreased by 6% when compared to 2018. Marijuana arrests accounted for 57% of all drug arrests, with a decrease of 8.3% when compared to the previous reporting period. Arrests for amphetamines/methamphetamines had the greatest increase from 3,483 to 4,646 (33.4%).Note: The General Assembly recently passed and Gov. Northam signed into law a bill to decriminalize marijuana with a goal of reducing marijuana-related arrests in Virginia.
  • Fraud reports increased 4.2% compared to 2018. Over three-quarters of victims (76.8%) were individuals, while 14.6% were businesses. Of the individuals that were victims of fraud, 20.7% were 65 or older.
  • Burglary decreased 7.5%. Of the 13,978 burglaries and attempted burglaries, more than half (54.8%) took place during the day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Three-quarters (75.3%) occurred at someone’s home.
  • Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 78.9% of homicides and 50.8% of robberies. Firearms were used to a lesser extent in aggravated assaults (28.2%).
  • There were 185 hate crimes, involving 187 victims, reported in 2019, representing a 16.2% increase compared to 2018. Over 60% (63.6%) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward sexual orientation and religion were next highest (17.7%, 15.0%, respectively). Of all reported bias motivated crime, 61% were assaults (aggravated assault, simple assault) or destruction/damage/vandalism of property.

The annual report calculates offenses using an Incident Based Reporting (IBR) method, which State Police say offers greater accuracy. It divides crime into two categories: Group A for serious offenses including violent crimes, property crimes, and drug offenses; and Group B for lesser offenses, like trespassing, disorderly conduct, bad checks and liquor law violations.

For both Group A and Group B crimes, there were a total of 274,636 arrests in 2019, compared to 279,288 arrests in 2018, representing an overall decrease in arrests in Virginia of 1.7%. Between 2018 and 2019, adult arrests for Group A and Group B offenses decreased 1.1%. Juvenile arrests also decreased by 9.5%.

Virginia State Police is the primary collector of crime data across the commonwealth by state mandate, with information collected by the Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division through a secure internet system.

Crime on a local level

You can find the full crime report here. It's 507 pages long, but it's searchable, so you can search for your city, town, or county law enforcement agency to find local crime statistics.

For instance, with those statistics, you see Charlottesville law enforcement’s largest number of crimes were assault, with 541 reports and 188 arrests. The city also saw 451 reports of destruction/vandalism. Harrisonburg had 23 reports of forcible rape and 4 arrests in 2019, as well as 63 reports of aggravated assault and 28 arrests, or that there were 12 reports of forcible rape in Augusta County and 0 arrests for the crime.

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