VBPD: Violent crime up slightly, thefts from vehicles take dramatic dip

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Violent crime in 2023 rose by 3.5% in the Resort City but is down nearly 4% compared to the three-year average, according to statistics released by the Virginia Beach Police Department and presented to City Council Tuesday.

Among those totals, rapes increased by more than 24%, and aggravated assaults are up nearly 17% in 2023 over the previous year in Virginia Beach. Robberies, though, declined by nearly 23% last year.

Virginia Beach had 90 shooting victims in 2023, up from 64 in 2022. Of the 90 shooting victims, 20 of them died. That’s up from 19 in 2022.

The city had 24 criminal homicides, 20 of them involving guns, in 2023. The total homicides is a slight increase from 2022’s 23 homicides. The city cleared more than 83% of homicides in 2023, up 5% from the previous year but lower than percentages in 2020 and 2021.

One concern there has been a spike in shootings in months you don’t usually see.

“For us to see increase in shooting violence in March, September, and November that was not consistent with previous years, not consistent with three-year average,” said Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate, “so we are never saying we rest on our laurels, and we say the data says that we are not going to have incidents, so that is an anomaly for us.”

10 On Your Side asked the explanation for that, and he said with 90 shooting victims over the year, two or three in this month or that month can skew numbers in a given month.

The city had fewer homicides than the majority of the seven cities, with only Suffolk and Chesapeake having fewer.

Despite public perception, Hampton Roads crime trending down

Homicides in Hampton Roads — 2023

  • Newport News — 45

  • Norfolk — 42

  • Portsmouth — 38

  • Hampton — 29

  • Virginia Beach — 24

  • Suffolk — 11

  • Chesapeake — 9

Property crimes dropped by 7% in 2023, from 8,391 to 7,806 offenses.

Thefts from vehicles, meanwhile, are down nearly 36% in Virginia Beach (3,260 in 2022 versus 2,101 in 2023) and thefts of motor vehicles are down 24% from 2022 (962 in 2022 versus 727 in 2023). Those numbers, according to VBPD, are the lowest they have been in four years.

“You have your car stolen, and I know it happens frequently,” Neudigate said. “You have your car broken into you probably had that happen at one time, so to reduce total property crime by 7% is significant and important.

“Larcenies from motor vehicles are down 36%, and thefts of motor vehicles down 24% compared to 2022, which is the lowest either number has been in four years. So, think about that about 30% fewer victims are walking out their door and having their car pilfered, stolen, vandalized.”

However, all other thefts, including larcenies at businesses, are up nearly 22%. The top 10 sites for larcenies at businesses in 2023 make up nearly 18% of all such larcenies. The ABC store on Northampton Boulevard near Burton Station Road was the top site for larcenies from businesses, with 136. Three different Walmarts in the city accounted for more than 200 larcenies, with other sites in the top 10 include locations at the former Pembroke Mall, Lynnhaven Mall, a Kohl’s on Princess Anne Road, another ABC store on Shore Drive and a 7-Eleven on Indian River Road.

Vehicle crashes in the city are down 6% from 2022, and more than 15% since 2021, while city-wide traffic stops have increased by more than 7% since 2022 and nearly 20% since 2021.

Speeding citations increased more than 30% in 2023 in Virginia Beach, going from 9,556 to 12,433.

Neudigate said the downward trend in Part 1 crimes — criminal homicides, forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson — is due to its use of data, analytics and police work.

City officers performed more than 17,000 hot spot patrols, defined as at least 15 minutes of a highly-visible police presence, in areas throughout the city where its analytic services unit’s data indicated emerging crimes and trends.

“Data and analytics play a crucial role in our decision-making by providing evidence-based insights, identifying patterns, and enabling proactive strategies,” Neudigate said. “Leveraging data allows VBPD to allocate resources more efficiently, detect trends in criminal activities, and ultimately enhance public safety while promoting transparency and accountability in policing practices.”

Neudigate spoke about his goals for 2024, which include moving into the new police headquarters by the end of the month. The new site is in the original Building 2, where 12 people were killed May 31, 2019. That building has been renovated and is now known as Building 11.

He said that with the department under one roof, it will cut down on bureaucracy, while bringing people closer together with better connections among departments.

He also spoke to council about fully implementing the real-time crime center that council funded. Also, eight of the nine civilian intelligence analysts have been hired. They will use more sophisticated software packages to increase security to protect residents.

More information

For more information on the Virginia Beach Police Department’s 2023 crime statistics, see below:

Virginia-Beach-Police-Department-2023-Crime-StatisticsDownload

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