Crime reports up in Lakeside

Published 10:05 pm Monday, January 11, 2016

Crime is up by 27.6 percent in the West End and Lakeside communities over the same time last year.

Over the last six months, the Suffolk Police Department responded to 208 crime-related calls in the adjoining neighborhoods on the fringes of downtown Suffolk, according to police records. It’s the same neighborhood where 28-year-old Corey Jason Achstein was killed by police gunfire on Dec. 28.

The West End and Lakeside neighborhoods reported 45 more incidents during the last six months of 2015 than during the same time span in 2014, according to city spokeswoman Diana Klink.

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According to data, the five most common types of incidents over the last six months included simple assaults, 24; tampering with vehicle, 23; theft from motor vehicle, 19; petit larceny, 16; and domestic simple assaults, 14.

Other common types of incidents reported destruction of property, vandalism of private property, residential breaking and entering, grand larceny and animal bites.

“I’m not surprised, we are constantly having burglaries,” said Candy Holland, a Causey Avenue resident. But she also believes the increased numbers could be a result of people being more willing to call police — rather than looking the other way or taking matters into their own hands — when they witness crimes.

That’s the message the West End-Lakeside Civic League has pitched to residents since launching the neighborhood watch program in 2014, Holland said.

“We look out for our neighbors and if we see anything unusual happening, we call police.” She is a member of the civic league.

“Once criminals learn that people are watching … and aren’t scared to get involved by reporting it, they will take their business somewhere else,” Holland added. “You’ve got to stay involved in the neighborhood … and be willing to fight back against crime.”

The high number of rental properties in the neighborhoods and poor vetting of renters by property owners also contribute to high crime rates, Holland believes.

On Dec. 28, Holland was one of the first people to call police after seeing Achstein, of the 200 block of Causey Avenue, allegedly wielding a weapon, yelling profanities and threatening to kill three teenagers walking ahead of him on Causey.

Two officers responded to the scene. Officer James Babor fired his weapon one time. Achstein died later that night at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Police recovered a BB gun near Achstein’s body, according to city statements.

The two officers are still on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal affairs and criminal investigations, Klink said. That is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings, she added. Both officers were wearing body cameras.