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Virginia sees reduction in violent crime, according to state report

(WTVG)
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Virginia State Police Release) - Virginia’s official, comprehensive report on local and statewide crime figures for 2020 is now available online. The Crime in Virginia report, according to Virginia State Police, provides “precise rates and occurrences of crimes committed in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth.”

The report breaks down criminal offenses and arrests by each reporting agency.

Violent crime includes murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault. Overall, according to state police, Virginia experienced a 1.9 percent decrease in violent crime offenses in 2020 compared to 2019. There were 15,713 violent crime offenses reported in 2020 compared to 16,018 violent crimes in 2019.

Per state mandate, the Virginia Department of 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 Division. 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 are sent to the FBI for incorporation into their annual report, Crime in the United States.

The following 2020 crime figures in Virginia are presented in the report:

- The number of reported homicides increased from 428 to 528 (23.4%).  Victims and offenders tended to be younger males; 45.1% of homicide victims were men between 18 and 34 and 52.7% of offenders were men between 18 and 34.  Nearly half (49.2%) of all homicides occurred at a residence/home.

- Motor vehicle thefts and attempted thefts increased 6% compared to 2019 during which 10,575 motor vehicles were stolen in 10,044 offenses. During 2020, there were 11,209 motor vehicles reported stolen in 10,773 offenses. In 2020, 6,366 motor vehicles were recovered (vehicles may have been stolen prior to 2020).  Of all motor vehicles stolen, 40.2% were taken from the residence/home.  The reported value of all motor vehicles stolen was $113,993,341.

- Drug arrests decreased by more than a third (36.7%) with the largest percentage decrease in the under 18 age group (48.6%).  The number of reports of drugs seized decreased for nearly all drug types, especially marijuana (31.7%), due in part to decriminalization of possessing less than 1 ounce of the drug effective July 1, 2020.

- Burglary decreased 18.4%. Of the 11,413 burglaries and attempted burglaries, more than half (52.2%) took place at night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., a reverse pattern from 2019 during which 54.8% of burglaries occurred during the day.  Furthermore, 68% occurred at a residence/home, a decrease of 7.3% over the previous year.

- Of the known weapons reported for violent crimes, firearms were used in 83% of homicides and 50.4% of robberies. Firearms were used in more than one-third (35.2%) of aggravated assault cases.

- There were 190 hate crime offenses, involving 193 victims, reported in 2020 representing a 2.7% increase compared to 2019. Two offenses indicated more than one type of bias motivation. Nearly three-fourths (72.8%) were racially or ethnically motivated. Bias toward sexual orientation and religion were next highest (14.4%, 11.8%, respectively). Of all reported bias motivated crime, 77.4% were assault offenses (aggravated assault, simple assault) or destruction/damage/vandalism of property.

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