Crime numbers fall

Published 11:26 pm Monday, May 27, 2013

crimeboxNEW

Crime overall was down in the city in 2012 as compared to the prior year, new statistics from the Virginia State Police show.

The city’s total incidents were down 3 percent, and the incident rate per 100,000 was down 4 percent.

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The totals reflect drops in the numbers of robberies, arsons, burglaries, embezzlements and stolen property offenses.

Police Chief Thomas Bennett attributed the 32-percent decrease in robberies to a lack of offenders on the street.

“A lot of times, that’s because the people that do that kind of stuff, a lot of them may be locked up,” he said.

The same goes for the 32-percent drop in burglaries.

“In 2011, that was the area where we had really high numbers,” Bennett said. “We kind of put together a plan where we dedicated detectives solely to work those cases, and we made quite a few arrests. We attribute that to the way we’re conducting business.”

However, some categories of crime increased. Aggravated assault was up 17 percent, and weapons law violations were up 23 percent.

Bennett attributed the increase in aggravated assaults to two separate incidents in 2012 where groups of kids were throwing large rocks at moving vehicles, targeting dozens of cars.

“When a rock hits a vehicle that’s driving down the road, that’s classified as an aggravated assault,” Bennett said. “We feel pretty comfortable that’s why those numbers were up.”

Bennett said the increase in weapons law violations comes as a result of more aggressive policing.

“Some people could say that’s because of more people carrying guns,” he said. “I doubt that. We’re just finding it more. That’s a direct reflection on just how many arrests we’re making.”

Larceny offenses — which made up more than 30 percent of the total incidents covered in the report — edged up 3 percent. Bennett again ascribed the increase to better enforcement by police and loss prevention personnel in retail stores.

“The sole reason for the increase in (larcenies) is due to theft from large retail merchants in our city,” he said. “We attribute that to more enforcement in those stores, and probably the economy has something to do with it.”

Suffolk’s 2012 incident rate per 100,000 was the third-lowest in Hampton Roads after Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Incident rate per 100,000, ordered from best to worst

  • Virginia Beach — 5,803
  • Chesapeake — 6,635
  • Suffolk — 6,927
  • Hampton — 7,435
  • Newport News — 8,436
  • Norfolk — 8,909
  • Portsmouth — 10,596

Percent change from 2011 to 2012, ordered from best to worst

  • Arson down 44%
  • Murder down 33%
  • Stolen property down 33%
  • Robbery down 32%
  • Burglary down 32%
  • Embezzlement down 32%
  • Vandalism down 16%
  • Other sex offenses down 13%
  • Motor vehicle theft down 13%
  • Fraud down 2%
  • Simple assault stayed flat
  • Larceny up 3%
  • Narcotics offenses up 12%
  • Aggravated assault up 17%
  • Counterfeit up 19%
  • Weapons law violations up 23%
  • Kidnapping up 24%
  • Forcible rape up 47%
  • Total incidents down 3%