Law enforcement agencies in the Historic Triangle have noticed an increase in vehicle larcenies during the coronavirus pandemic.
WYDaily reported in August that vehicle larcenies had increased in York and James City counties compared to Williamsburg, where this particular type of crime had slightly decreased.
So what does the crime rate in the localities show now?
James City County Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams wrote in an email there has been an increase in car larcenies this year.
“There have been 135 reported incidents of theft from motor vehicles to date in 2020,” she wrote. “During the same time in 2019, there were 80.”
As for car thefts, there were 22 incidents in 2020 compared to 11 incidents in 2019.
“These types of incidents occur throughout the County and tend to take place in neighborhoods where offenders have access to several vehicles quickly,” she added, noting there is not a particular time of year these crimes are common.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shelley Ward wrote in an email the department did see a rise earlier this year, but not overall and not in a particular area.
While car larcenies are a crime of opportunity, Ward noted YPSO gets more reports in the spring and summer months.
According to YPSO’s last weekly incident report, there were 12 reports of larceny from a motor vehicle in York County.
Williamsburg Police provides access to a community crime map offered by LexisNexis. According to the crime map, there were several larcenies from motor vehicles in the month of September within the city limits of Williamsburg.
A representative from the Williamsburg Police Department was not immediately available for comment.
So how often are stolen items recovered?
Some items can be recovered, such as credit cards if the department can get “surveillance photos” of the person who used the cards, Williams noted.
But other items, such as firearms, are “less likely to be recovered and obviously, much more concerning,” she added.
“It depends on if the item has a serial number, if the serial number was registered, etc,” Ward wrote. “One program that we offer is called Protech DNA and citizens can mark their valuables so if recovered we can get them returned much easier.”
Residents can take proactive measures to prevent car larcenies by taking their “valuables from their vehicles,” locking their car doors and “keep spare keys and garage door openers in safe/secure location,” Williams said.
“As officers interact with the public, this is a key crime prevention tip that is often shared,” Williams said. “We also use social media and news flashes to spread the word.”
“We also developed a short video (similar to a tv commercial) that we run on the local cable channel,” Williams added.
Ward said YPSO’s “Crime Prevention deputies” go to neighborhood and “remind” residents to take similar measures.
(VIDEO: The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for help in identifying the suspect. It happened during the overnight hours of Sept. 27in the Edgewood Subdivision. You can call in your tips at 757-890-4999 or Crime Line at 888-LOCK-U-UP. Refer to report #2003056.)
“We have started a new social media campaign to remind people to #BeepBeforeYouSleep (Click your key fob to be sure you have locked your vehicle,” Ward added.
When asked if the James City County Police Department could share the annual 2019 report about vehicle larcenies, Williams wrote the 2019 annual report “hasn’t been finalized yet” and referred WYDaily to the 2018 statistics on the department’s website.
Williamsburg, however, does have their end-of-the-year 2019 report published, but the report does not specify the types of larcenies.
The YPSO 2019 statistics report also does not specify the number of incident reports nor does it identify the types of incidents.
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