Report: Shoplifting and assault on the rise in Fairfax Co., fatal crashes less frequent

There were hundreds more assault and shoplifting incidents in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the first half of 2023 than during the same time period in 2022, according to a midyear Fairfax County Police Department report.

Over 3,700 shoplifting incidents were reported between January and June, according to the county report, compared with 2,489 last year in the same period.

Fairfax County police Maj. Frederick Chambers said “retail theft has been a big thing,” adding that police are working with stores to determine theft prevention strategies. Neighborhoods in D.C. and Maryland have reported similar problems.

FFXNow first reported on the department’s findings.

A lot of shoplifting in Fairfax County, Chambers said, happens in big shopping centers, as well as in large retail stores such as Walmart. Some of that can be addressed by planning for what Chambers called “environmental design things,” such as where merchandise is located, whether it needs to be locked away and whether stores are checking receipts and greeting customers at entrances and exits.

The shoplifting trend has shown some signs of improving, though. There were 642 incidents reported in May, and 573 in June, according to police data.

County police created a summer crime prevention team that focused on community issues such as retail theft.

There were also 583 more assaults in the first half of this year than in 2022, the report found, and Chambers said “assaults are constantly on the rise.”

However, many of those assaults are related to what Chambers described as “domestic violence situations.”

Others, he said, “are just a result of people loitering around businesses,” and some involve intoxicated people.

Meanwhile, there were 16 fatal crashes in the first half of last year, and 12 in the same time frame this year. Regardless of the slight decline, Chambers said officers prioritize safety on roads such as Fairfax County Parkway and Route 28.

“We’re also focusing on our school zones,” Chambers said. “Trying to get people to recognize the kids are back in school, more kids are out on foot, on bikes, et cetera.”

While the report accounts for six-months worth of data, Chambers said police commanders in each district station have a weekly meeting to discuss trends and patterns.

The full report is available online.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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