Crime down citywide but up near VCU

October 11, 2013

By Geoffrey Cooper, Jeannette Porter and Lee Francis

Overall crime in Richmond has dropped more than 3 percent this year, but it has increased in certain neighborhoods — especially around VCU’s two campuses.

From Jan. 1 through September, the Richmond Police Department handled 26,331 crime reports. That is down 3.4 percent from the 27,257 incidents for the same period of 2012, according to an analysis of the department’s online data.

Citywide, murders have dropped 28 percent — from 36 last year to 26 this year, for example. Robberies are down almost 4 percent, to 431; assaults, down more than 4 percent, to 3,503; and burglaries, down nearly 11 percent, to 1,289. Moreover, the number of “other” incidents, which range from vandalism and threatening phone calls to hit-and-runs, fell more than 6 percent, to 13,538 this year.

(On the other hand, some categories of crime have increased citywide: Thefts, for example, have risen more than 4 percent — from 4,635 for the first nine months of 2012 to 4,837 for the corresponding period this year. And reports of vice, usually drug and narcotic violations, went up 5 percent — from 1,784 to 1,877.)

Of the city’s 148 neighborhoods, 87 have seen less crime this year than last. For instance, the Colonial Place neighborhood near Carytown reported 64 crimes during the first nine months of 2012 but only 33 so far this year. In the Pocoshock neighborhood in Southside, the overall number of crimes plunged from 54 last year to 23 in 2013. Other neighborhoods with steep decreases included Forest Hill, Old Town Manchester, Magnolia Industrial Center, Malvern Gardens and the Belle And Mayo Islands area.

However, in about 20 neighborhoods, crime increased by at least 20 percent. They included the area around VCU’s Monroe Park campus (where crime reports have tripled from 252 during the first three quarters of last year to 789 so far this year); and the Biotech and Medical College of Virginia area (where the number of crimes quadrupled from 130 to 545).

Most of the crimes around the Monroe Park campus were categorized as “other.” They included liquor law violations (132 offenses), hit-and-run incidents (120) and destruction of private property (31).

The Biotech and MCV district in downtown Richmond recorded 330 “other” incidents (including 61 hit-and-runs) and 139 thefts (up from just 13 the previous year).

Another neighborhood that has seen a spike in overall crime is Windsor Farms, south of Cary Street Road and west of the Powhite Parkway. The number of crimes there has more than doubled, to 60 so far this year. Burglaries jumped from five to 15, and thefts from seven to 29.

Reporting about a break-in and theft in the area in May, WTVR.com called Windsor Farms “one of Richmond’s most historic and exclusive neighborhoods. The homes are tax assessed between $500,000 and $1.2 million, according to city tax records.”

Another historic neighborhood, The Fan, has had the most crime occurrences in Richmond this year — 1,395 incidents. (Still, that was down 3 percent from last year.)

NBC12 looked at crime in the Fan in May and found that the most common crimes there were destruction of property and hit-and-runs. The station interviewed Lt. Erlan Marshall, who patrols The Fan. He said the crime numbers were likely due to the high population of teens and 20-somethings, as well as limited parking and high pedestrian and auto traffic from the neighborhood’s many restaurants and bars.

Other Richmond neighborhoods that recorded the highest numbers of crimes this year were:

¶  Gilpin (846 total crimes — but down 20 percent from 2012)

¶  Ginter Park (788 total crimes — up 24 percent over last year)

¶  Carver (676 total crimes — up 52 percent from last year)

While the number of homicides dropped citywide, the Whitcomb neighborhood remained one of Richmond’s most dangerous areas this year. There have been three murders so far in the East Richmond community, located between Route 360 and Interstate 64, not far from the city jail. That’s the same number Whitcomb had at this point in 2012.

After Whitcomb on the homicides list were the Fan and the Midlothian neighborhood, each with two murders.

Spreadsheet of crime statistics for each Richmond neighborhood

This article is a “Data Drop brief” — a quick-hit posting based on analysis by students in MASC 644 Computer-Assisted Reporting. The exercise involved searching the Richmond Police Department’s crime incident database for 2013; copying the resulting HTML table of neighborhood-by-neighborhood crime statistics into Excel; getting the corresponding table for 2012 and pasting it into Excel; making sure the neighborhoods lined up correctly; cleaning up the formatting; and then doing calculations on the data and sorting the results.