RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith provided an update on recent crime statistics in the city following his first three months on the job.
Smith presented his Report to the Community for the third quarter inside RPD Headquarters on Wednesday morning.
He compared violent and property crime numbers from July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 to the same time period in 2019. Smith was sworn in on July 1.
“Violent crimes — the totals are up four percent. That’s a total of 14 additional instances compared to 2019,” Smith said.
Robberies and aggravated assaults rose by six percent and four percent respectively. Incidents of rape dropped by 53 percent.
Homicides increased 60 percent from 15 reported during the third quarter in 2019 compared to 24 in 2020.
“The most concerning is we’ve seen some small arguments escalate into violent acts and it’s something that baffles the mind,” Smith explained. “We’ve also seen the historical beefs between communities and neighborhoods coming back and forth.”
Chief Smith called a recent increase in firearms reported stolen from vehicles “a disturbing trend.”
So far in 2020, gun owners reported 376 firearms stolen. More than half of those guns were taken from cars.
Smith said more than 80 percent of the firearms taken from cars did not require force entry into the vehicle, such as a breaking a window.
“A lot of times people break into cars and they steal the car. Guess what they find when they’re in that car? They find a gun. But, primarily 176 guns taken from vehicles were the primary offense were to break into the vehicle,” he explained.
Smith cited a new 2020 law that requires gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to local law enforcement or Virginia State Police within 48 hours of the incident.
RPD recently hired a firearms expert that will assist them with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s NIBIN program (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network). The program helps train officers to better link bullets to the guns that shot them.
He urged Richmonders to lock up their cars and guns to prevent criminals from gaining easy access to potentially commit violent crimes.
“This is what we don’t want to happen. We don’t want guns in the hands of violent offenders and felons,” Smith said.
However, the total number of property crimes reported during the third quarter decreased 13 percent compared to last year.
Burglaries dropped 32 percent while larcenies fell 15 percent. Both arson and auto thefts saw an increase in incidents, 17 percent and 11 percent respectively.
Chief Smith applauded the work of Capt. Daniel Minton and the 4th precinct, which encompasses neighborhoods from Scott’s Addition to Jackson Ward to Oregon Hill.
Violent crime is down 14 percent for the year while property crimes are down 16 percent in the 4th police precinct.
“The biggest contribution I would say to that is the men and women of the 4th precinct. It’s also the community,” Capt. Minton explained.
Capt. Minton cited one example of community engagement when a resident saw a wanted poster for a suspected car theft that was posted on the Nextdoor app.
“[The suspect] stole two cars in one day. We put out the wanted poster and sure enough the guy saw him around the Diamond, called it in, and watched us apprehend him,” he described.
Both Smith and Minton spoke about their efforts to reach out to families during National Night Out.
“Even in these uncertain times [officers] are still excited to go out and reduce crime in the City of Richmond and keep people safe,” Minton said.
Smith said he will aim to provide a Report to the Community each quarter of the year.