Alexandria crime analysis notes increase of thefts from unattended cars during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is having a noticeable impact on crime across Alexandria, Virginia.

The Alexandria Police Department released a crime summary for the first nine months of 2020 on Friday. It said there were 2% fewer “Part I” crimes, “excluding certain larcenies and stolen vehicles” compared to the same time span in 2019.

Police attribute the rise in some statistics to increased anti-shoplifting efforts by some retail stores and thefts from vehicles due to people leaving their cars unattended for days at a time during the pandemic.

Including those offenses, the police department said there has been an 18% increase in overall Part I crimes to date.

“Part I” crimes, as defined by the FBI, are considered more serious because they include crimes against people, police said.

There were 438 shoplifting incidents between January and September, 107 more than the 331 shoplifting incidents for the same period in 2019.

Alexandria police said loss prevention efforts by retail stores, an initiative started at the beginning of 2020, has resulted in a “sharp rise” in thefts from reported at retail stores.

However, the police note that while more shoplifters have been identified, that “does not necessarily represent an increase in shoplifting.”

Larcenies spiked by 286 for 1,769 in the first nine months of 2020. There were 1,483 between January and September of 2019.

The jump in thefts from cars, and both stolen vehicles and bicycles, is due to owners “leaving them unattended for long periods of time while at home during the pandemic,” the report said.

There was a drop in the number of reported rapes, but Alexandria said it is “concerned that some rapes may not have been reported if the victims did not feel comfortable making the reports while having to stay in the homes where the rapes occurred.”

This year, eight rapes were reported between January and September, nine fewer than in the same period in 2019.

The first nine months of 2020 saw 38 residential burglaries, down 13 in 2019.

Police say people being generally home from work, or working from home, is the main reason why residential burglaries are down.

With more people at home, police said commercial burglaries, “typically theft from unattended but locked businesses,” were up 13 from 30 in the first nine months of 2019 for a total of 43 between January and September this year.

Assaults involving weapons are also down sharply to from 45 to 29, police said.

See the full table of statistics below.

Alexandria police crime chart
(Courtesy Alexandria Police Department)
Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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