Bible Road residents search for salvation after disturbing rise in crime; 'They are afraid to leave house'

Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 23:24:55-04

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. — Nottoway County is the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbor, and for years crime has been virtually nonexistent.

"Most people didn't lock their doors," explained Jeff LaVelle, who has lived in Nottoway most of his life. "Our doors at our house was always open. It's always been quiet, until recently."

LaVelle's home is located off of Bible Road, which is just outside the Town of Crewe.

"The Sheriff's Department has been out here more times in the last six months than in the last 30 years," he said.

Since Jan.1, Nottoway County Sheriff's deputies have been called out to this stretch of road more than 80 times.

"Everybody's carrying a gun," LaVelle noted.

"People are that scared?" asked CBS 6 Reporter Caroline Coleburn.

"Yes," said LaVelle.

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Jeff LaVelle

There are only about 40 houses on Bible Road. One of them is the home of LaVelle's parents.

"They are afraid to leave house," he explained. "That's not how you're supposed to live."

LaVelle said the house next door to his parent's house has been broken into twice this year.

"You're paranoid, you're worried, you know, am I going to get hit next?" said another Bible Road resident, who wanted to remain anonymous.

The Nottoway County Sheriff's Office is on track to double the number of arrests made for breaking and entering and stolen items this year, with 47 people charged in the first half of 2022. That's compared to 57 all of last year.

"The community is concerned," Nottoway Sheriff Robert Jones shared.

On Bible Road alone, Jones said his 14 deputies have responded to two breaking and entering calls, a trespassing call, two larceny reports and more than 23 reports of suspicious activity.

"There's been a lot of strange incidents out there," said Jones. "We've had people that steal wheelbarrows, put stuff in wheelbarrows and then they're walking down the road with the wheelbarrow."

Residents and county leaders believe one thing is responsible for this spike in crime.

"The drug usage, the meth, it's slowly coming," Jones noted. "It's not a big city problem anymore."

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Nottoway County Sheriff Robert Jones, 2022

Police have been called to one specific home on Bible Road several times this year for reports of suspicious activity and overdoses.

"We used to get calls out there almost every day for a while," the Sheriff explained.

The strange incidents, like a woman trespassing at 3 a.m. coupled with the break-ins and theft, have caused Bible Road neighbors to create their own social media group to alert residents about crime.

"The group is growing bigger and stronger, and we don't miss a beat," said a woman who helps lead the group.

They report everything they see in their online chat to police and county leaders.

"We the people of Bible Road are taking a stand, you know, we're having a voice," she noted. "And we want something done."

Nottoway County Supervisor John Roark is working with Bible Road residents to help put a stop to the crime.

"The phone calls that I typically get, none of them are pleasant," said Roark. "One violent crime in Nottoway is one too many."

One of the steps Roark said he's taken to protect citizens is increasing the county budget to add another dispatcher because the county currently only has one on shift at a time.

"The emergency services since I've been here has been strained," Roark expressed

That strain was put on display back in May, during the police pursuit of Noah Lee Price of Amelia, who was on the run in Nottoway and surrounding counties for more than 24 hours, accused of stealing vehicles, breaking into homes and shooting at police. At the time, Roark said the county had only one dispatcher behind the desk.

"Do you think that car accidents, do you think that medical calls stopped because something like that is going on?" he said. "It doesn't."

But Roark expressed that an extra body isn't the only solution needed. He believes the county is suffering from a lack of resources to fight the drug use that citizens and police believe is causing crime.

"The war on meth is going to be won in rural Virginia," said Roark. "And those resources need to come to rural Virginia. You need specific counseling and treatment, and we don't have enough of it. And we need to focus on those problems."

As for Jeff LaVelle, he's come to terms with the fact that his doors may need to remain locked and his security cameras on for some time.

"A lot of the people in the group say or in the neighborhoods say that they want our quiet or quiet community back," he explained. "I don't think you're gonna get it back. I just think this is how it's gonna be. Those days are gone."

Meanwhile, Roark said he’s working on a plan to create an ordinance to clean up run-down properties that he believes are causing problems, and he also wants to establish more tools for law enforcement to fight crime.