RUMOR: Violent crime in Virginia Beach is at an all-time high

​​FICTION: Actually, the violent crime rate in Virginia Beach has been steadily declining over the last 50 years and, according to the most recent crime report, is at about the same level it was in the mid 1960s.
Crime scene with yellow tapeIn 1963, the average home cost $12,650, a gallon of gas was 29 cents and the average annual income was $5,807. That year, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In the early 1960s, the crime rate in Virginia Beach was around 21 crimes per 1,000 residents and in 2017, it dropped back down to that same low level. 

The 2017 crime rate was calculated using the July 1 estimates from The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service relative to Part I crimes. Part I crimes include both violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; and property crimes — burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. 

Compared to 2016, these latest statistics indicate that in 2017, violent crime, which accounts for 7.1 percent of our reported Part I Crimes, decreased by 6.9 percent to 1.5 crimes per 1,000 residents. All categories of crimes saw sign​ificant decreases except for robberies. In 2017, homicides decreased by nearly a third – from 22 to 15 (a drop of 31.8 percent). Aggravated assaults decreased by 12.9 percent from 286 to 249 and rapes decreased by 16.2 percent from 167 to 140. Robberies increased by 7.6 percent from 264 to 284.  

Property crime accounted for 92.8 percent of reported Part I Crimes and all categories of property crimes decreased from 2016 levels – overall, dropping from ___ to 19.6 crimes per 1,000 residents. Burglaries decreased 12.3 percent from 827 to 725.  Larcenies decreased 9.3 percent from 8,480 to 7,692.  Motor vehicle thefts decreased 6.6 percent from 457 to 427. Arsons decreased 25.7 percent from 70 to 52.  

So what changed? The Virginia Beach Police department has been using technology and precise data to track crime and information to help develop better policing strategies. Though arrest numbers and traffic tickets were down, city-wide decreases in major crimes show that the department is getting things right. They focused resources on addressing major issues that substantially affect safety throughout the city rather than simply writing speeding tickets. 

Coordinated approaches like these ensure that Virginia Beach remains one of the safest large cities in the nation. In fact, according to this 2018 article from USA Today, Virginia Beach is tied for the 4th lowest murder rate among the nation’s 50 largest cities.

The Virginia Beach Police Department cleared 68.9 percent of violent crime cases and 24 percent of property crime cases last year.  According to the most recent figures from the FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States, the average violent crime clearance rate for all cities with a population of 250,000 or more was just 39.1 percent and the average property crime clearance rate was 12.7 percent.  

Chief Cervera VBPD Crime Statistics Report (Jan. 16, 2018)

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