Saturday, June 10, 2023

Some areas in the Historic Triangle are seeing a decrease in car larcenies during the coronavirus

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

More people working from home means less vehicles on the road.

So if people have been working from home the past few months because of the pandemic, then their vehicles are also spending less time in parking lots or exposed to what authorities would say “unlawful behavior.

Local law enforcement over the past few months have seen a significant decrease in the amount of tampering with, rummaging through, or larceny reports from vehicles.

There were 189 of those reports between March and August of 2019 in York County but during the same time period for this year, there have only been 84 reports.

“We don’t have any theories as to why there’s this decrease,” said Shelley Ward, spokeswoman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office. “You could say that it’s because people had to shelter in place for quite some time…but there’s really nothing we can say other than that.”

Ward said the biggest issue is when people leave their firearms or keys to other vehicles in their cars. Car burglaries typically happen at night in neighborhoods where people have left their cars unlocked.

Ward said the York Poquoson Sheriff’s Office has also been working to send out messaging to the community that reminds them to lock their doors and remove their valuable items from their cars.

“All we can do is put the messaging out,” she said. “It would be wonderful if people can keep their car doors locked…because it only takes one time to forget and leave your car unlocked.”

There has only been a slight decrease in the number of larcenies in Williamsburg. Between July 2018 and June 2019 there were 42 reports but between July 2019 and June 2020 there were 38 reports. Police spokesman Charles Ericsson said the slight decrease could be because of the department’s promotion of the #9PMRoutine campaign on social media.

The campaign brings attention to and educates the public about how those larcenies occur. It reminds people each day at 9 p.m. to remember to lock their vehicles and remove valuables from their cars.

“The reason we started the #9PMRoutine posts [were] because we had a couple of larcenies from vehicles and decided to get ahead of it before we had a significant jump in numbers,” Ericsson wrote in an email.

But in James City County, the number of car larceny reports have increased.

Between January and August 2019, there were 62 reports of theft from motor vehicles. During that same time period in 2020, there were 87 reports.

Stephanie Williams, spokeswoman for the James City County Police Department, said it’s because those are crimes of opportunity. 

The data remains consistent over the past years, which has repeatedly shown more car larcenies in James City County than in Williamsburg. Part of the reason for this is because James City County has a much larger population that is spread over a greater distance.

Williams said most of the incidents are in residential areas where there might be poor lighting and the ability to access several vehicles in a short period of time.

James City County Police have sent out routine reminders to lock car doors and remove valuables through social media and news flash subscriptions. They also created a short video that can be viewed on the department’s YouTube channel or on the local cable channel.

“Our officers also routinely provide reminders to folks that they encounter while out in the community and at community events,” Williams wrote in an email. 

Williams said while typically those larcenies might happen with unlocked vehicles, there have also recently been a number of locked vehicles that have had visible valuable items taken from them. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to remove valuable items from a vehicle or at least keep them out of sight in a glove box, center console or trunk.


Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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