Crime in Richmond Highway area jumped 10 percent in 2016

District boundaries

Boundaries of the Mount Vernon police district, which cover most of the Richmond Highway area. Click to enlarge.

The Richmond Highway area saw a 10 percent increase in crime in 2016, outpacing a 2 percent increase in the crime rate throughout the county, according to a report released last week by the Fairfax County Police.

Sex offenses, vehicle thefts and drug arrests all saw sizable increases in the Mount Vernon police district — which covers most of the greater Richmond Highway area — while robberies and homicides both decreased.

Countywide, drug-related offenses were responsible for much of the upward trend.

It was the first increase in the county crime rate since at least 2011. The Mount Vernon district crime rate was the highest its been since 2013.

Sex offenses nearly double

The most dramatic increase in the Mount Vernon district was sex offenses, which skyrocketed by 84 percent compared to 2015. A total of 48 were reported, higher than any other precinct in the county. 

Countywide, there was a 17 percent increase in sex crimes. However, no police district recorded as many sex offenses or saw as dramatic an increase as Mount Vernon. 

Part of the reason the jump was so large is due to the fact that the 26 reported sex offenses reported in 2015 were by far the lowest total for the district in the past seven years. Not counting 2015, the 47 reported cases in 2016  were actually lower than every other year this decade. 

Sex offenses were the only “crime against people” — a category that includes homicides, assaults and kidnappings/abductions — that saw a substantial jump in the Richmond Highway area last year.

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Homicides down

While the number of homicides increased across the county in 2016, the Mount Vernon district recorded four — two fewer than in 2015.

Countywide there were 19 murders in 2016, compared to 13 in 2015. The 19 homicides marked the highest total since 22 people were murdered in 2008.

Arrests have been made in three of the four Richmond Highway-area murders from 2016. Only the May murder of Tarreece Sampson in the Huntington area remains open.

Murder statistics

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Robberies drop, vehicle thefts up

Despite a string of high-profile robberies along Route 1 in 2016, — including some that managed to get the attention of the FBI — robberies actually dropped compared to 2015. Overall there were 11 fewer robberies in the Mount Vernon district, despite a small increase countywide. 

Most other “crimes against property” — a category that includes burglaries and larcenies — saw modest increases in the Mount Vernon district in 2016. The big exception was vehicle thefts, which went up by 44 percent. 

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Drug or narcotics arrests — which fall into the “crimes against society” category — went up by 24 percent in the Richmond Highway area last year. That was slightly ahead of the 21 percent increase countywide. 

Fast responders

No police district in the county responded to calls faster than Mount Vernon in 2016. Officers responded to priority one calls (the most serious) in 3.8 minutes. Overall officers from the Mount Vernon station responded to calls in 5.8 minutes. Both numbers ranked first among all stations in the county. The Mount Vernon station was also the fastest responding station in 2015.

About the data

The FCPD report follows standards set forth by the Virginia State Police for reporting crime. All of the crimes listed in the FCPD report are so-called Group A offenses, which are considered the most serious by the state police.

Group A offenses are broken down into three categories: Crimes against people (homicide, assault, kidnapping/abduction, sex offenses), crimes against property (robbery, larceny, vehicle theft, etc.) and crimes against society (drug offenses, weapons offenses, prostitution, etc).

Crimes against people are calculated by the number of victims, while crimes against property or society are calculated by the number of events. 

The report did not release population figures for each police district; however the FCPD’s 2015 annual report said that the Mount Vernon district had approximately 107,281 people, making it the second-smallest district in the county population-wise.