Virginia Arrests and Crime Rates

The police and sheriffs of Virginia’s 38 independent cities and 95 counties are responsible for enforcing the law, but they must document instances of when they do so. These documents are known as police reports and official arrest records. These reports and records are written from the view of law enforcement, and includes all information about the encounter. This record is useful for that reason, as it is unchangeable, and provides insight for third parties such as courts and citizens.

Virginia Police reports

Police reports and arrest records are rigidly preserved after their creation, and are usually not altered or amended after their creation. Because of this, they are often the first piece of evidence submitted when forming a case against a suspected criminal. Arrest records describe all details of an incident, and typically includes the names of those involved or present, the time and place of the encounter, the details of actions that occurred as well as countermeasures taken by law enforcement.

They are also useful for citizens when researching a topic, or attempting to understand precedent to better understand their own rights. The state of Virginia and the United States account for this need of transparency and candidness with the Virginia Public Records Act and the national Freedom of Information Act. These laws were enacted to allow the public to hold officials accountable and understand their rights. Per the Public Records Act, “Any records made confidential by law shall be so treated. Records which by law are required to be closed to the public shall not be deemed to be made open to the public under the provisions of this chapter. Records in the custody of The Library of Virginia which are required to be closed to the public shall be open for public access 75 years after the date of creation of the record. No provision of this chapter shall be construed to authorize or require the opening of any records ordered to be sealed by a court. All records deposited in the archives that are not made confidential by law shall be open to public access.”

Arrest records and police reports can be found through the agency that performed created the document. This may be statewide, a county concern, or a local level activity. Alternatively, visiting the closest police or sheriff headquarters is the first step in finding pertinent records.

Crimes and arrests

Arrests and crime in Virginia have fluctuated, but are generally on the rise. Murder grew by a rate of 1.6 percent from 3.77 in 2011 to 5.37 in 2017. Kidnapping grew by .5 instances from 18.22 to 18.71. Rape grew by nearly 5 instances per 100,000 people, from 63.04 to 67.72. Aggravated assault also grew from 109.19 to 119.22. Simple assault and robbery were the only violent crimes to decrease, from 1229.47 to 1045 and from 67.32 to 51 respectively. In terms of property crime, decreases are more common. Burglary decreased by over 100 instances, from 375.9 in 2011 to 217.19 in 2017. Larceny was also down from 1784.6 to 1476.6. Vehicle theft stayed about the same from 118.8 to 117.4, and arson decreased from 14.4 to 9.5.

Other crimes included extortion, which rose to 395 incidents or arrest in 2017, counterfeiting which lowered to 6,951 instances, fraud, which spiked to 35,230 instances, embezzlement which lowered to 2,789 instances, drugs and narcotic arrests which rose more than 25% to 70,974 instances, and weapon law violations which tose to 12,380.

2013 also saw a widespread redefinition of rape that makes an occurrence much broader and eliminates gender from the wording. Per the United States Department of Justice Archives, “For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.”

To accommodate for an age where specificity is needed to prosecute offenders, the 1924 definition of rape was rewritten from “The carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” to “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

County and school crime

Virginia’s violent crime rate was lower than the national average in 2017, but its property crime was higher. The nation experienced 1,247,321 violent crimes and arrests, and 7,694,086 property crimes and arrests in 2017, resulting in a crime rate of 382.9 and 2,362.2 per 100,000 people respectively. Virginia had 18,645 violent crimes and arrests and 260,584 property crimes and arrests, resulting in a violent rate of 220.1 and 3,076.6 for 2017, respectively.

Pulaski County

Pulaski County, had a crime and arrest rate of 7,955.7 per 100,000 people, making it Virginia’s county with the highest crime and arrest rate in 2017. Its government center is the city of the same name, and its population is 24,184, making it the 36th largest county in the state. For violent crime, the county experienced 1 murder, 5 rapes, 2 robberies, 29 aggravated assaults, and 189 simple assaults and intimidations. For property crime, there were 21 burglaries, 273 larcenies, 3 motor vehicle thefts, and 3 arsons. There were 1924 total crimes committed by adults in the county.

The largest school in the county is the Virginia Western Community College with a population of 12,601 as of 2011. The school reported only 1 drug law violation and 1 liquor law violation between 2013 and 2015. To search for arrest records held by the Pulaski County Sheriff, visit the sheriff’s office at 902 East Main Street in Pulaski, VA. For more information, call 540-980-7783.

Henry County

With a population of 51,227, and centered on the city of Martinsville, Henry County is Virginia’s 25th largest county but ranked second for highest arrest percentage with a crime rate of 5544.97 per 100,000 people. For violent crime, they had 1 murder, 6 rapes, 12 robberies, 61 aggravated assaults, and 336 simple assaults or intimidations. For property crimes, there were 47 burglaries, 183 larcenies, 19 motor vehicle thefts, and 3 arsons. There were a total of 1884 arrest records for adults in the county. There are no universities or colleges in Henry County. For more information on obtaining an arrest record in the county, call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-656-4290, email them at seanes@co.henry.va.us, or visit them at 3250 Kings Mountain Rd, Martinsville, VA. They are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Henrico County

Henrico County, which makes its government seat in Laurel, has a population of 327,898 and was had the third highest crime rate in Virginia. For adult arrests related to violent crime, there were 17 murders, 17 rapes, 77 robberies, 197 aggravated assaults, and 759 simple assaults. For property crimes, there were 115 burglaries, 1220 larcenies, 37 motor vehicle thefts, and 6 arson instances. There were a total of 10,834 adult arrests in the county. The largest school near Henrico is the Virginia Commonwealth University, which has a total enrollment of 31,242 as of 2015. Between 2013 and 2015, they reported 15 rapes, 1 robbery, 7 aggravated assaults, 46 burglaries, 4 motor vehicle thefts, 14 illegal weapons possessions, 249 drug law violations, and 558 liquor law violations. To obtain arrest records in Henrico, or to learn how to obtain them, call 804-501-5860, email at sheriff@henrico.us, or visit them at 4301 E Parham Rd. Henrico, VA.

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County holds its county seat in Chesterfield Court House and has a population of 343,599. They ranked number four for the highest arrests in Virginia, with a crime rate of 4837.95 for 100,000 people. In 2017, the county made arrests for 12 murders, 36 rapes, 75 robberies, and 126 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 124 burglaries, 1026 larcenies, and 9 arson incidents. The largest school in the county is Virginia State University, which has a population of about 5,400 students. The school’s crime rate was higher than usual for the period of 2013 to 2015, with 1 murder, 10 rapes, 12 robberies, 24 burglaries, 5 motor vehicle thefts, 2 illegal weapons possessions, 30 drug law violations, and 20 liquor law violations. To access arrest records in Chesterfield, email the sheriff at FahJ@chesterfield.gov after reviewing the counties rights and responsibilities document concerning freedom of information requests.

Buchanan County

Buchanan County was fifth in terms of arrest rate, with 4,485.4, and has 21,514 active residents. For violent crime arrests, the county oversaw the arrest of 7 rapists, 2 robbers, and 219 assaulters. For property crimes, the county experienced 16 burglaries, 80 larcenies, 3 car thefts, and 4 arson attempts. Buchanan County is home to the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, which has around 200 students, and reported no crime between 2013 and 2015. Arrest records are available through the Buchanan County Sheriff’s website. Contact or visit them after reviewing the counties rights and responsibilities document concerning freedom of information requests.

Roanoke County

Roanoke County had an arrest rate of 4219.7 in 2017 and has 93,730 residents, making it sixth for arrest rate in the State. In 2017, they were subject to 1 murder, 9 rapes, 4 robberies, and 396 assaults. For property crime, there were 37 burglaries, 364 larcenies, 15 car thefts, and 2 arson instances. The largest school near Roanoke County is Miller-Motte Technical College, which has a population of 9,167, and reported no crime between 2013 and 2015. To find an official arrest record in Roanoke County, contact the sheriff’s department’s FOIA officer at 540-853-1761, or by email at Kristen.Borak@roanokeva.gov. The Information Advisory Council is available to answer questions at foiacouncil@dls.virginia.gov or at 804-225-3056.

Smyth County

Smyth County was the seventh largest county for arrest rates, with a rate of 4132.5 in 2017. They have a population of 30,656. Of the arrests, there were 2 murders, 3 rapes, 2 robberies, and 16 aggravated assaults, and 135 simple assaults. For property crime, there were 30 burglaries, 121 larcenies, 11 car thefts, and 3 arson attempts. Official arrest records can be obtained through the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office’s Records Department. Contact them at 276-781-2357 or by email at kmedley@smythcounty.org.

Stafford County

Stafford County had an arrest rate of 4114.6, and has a population of 146,649, making it the eighth largest county for arrest rate. Those arrests include 1 murder, 25 rapes, 15 robberies, and 100 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 29 burglaries, 327 larcenies, 12 car thefts, and 1 instance of arson. The largest school in the county is Stratford University, with a population of 2,849. They reported 6 robberies, and 3 burglaries between 2013 and 2015. Official arrest records for Stafford County can be found at the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office. For more information, call 540-658-4450, or by email at info@staffordcountyva.gov.

York County

York County saw has a population of 67,739 and ranked ninth for total crime rate in the state. For violent crime, the country faced 1 murder, 9 rapes, 8 robberies, 25 aggravated assaults, and 163 simple assaults. In terms of property crime, the county experienced 39 burglaries, 345 larcenies, and 3 car thefts. Arrest records in York can be found through the York County Sheriff’s Office. To request an official arrest record or learn more information, contact the Records Department at 757-890-3300 or by email at foia@yorkcounty.gov.

Caroline County

Caroline County was tenth in arrest rate for Virginia counties with an arrest rate of 3875.37 in 2017. They have a population of 30,461. For violent crime, the county had 11 rapes, 3 robberies, 21 aggravated assaults, 204 simple assaults and intimidations. In terms of property crime, the county had 11 burglaries, 65 larcenies, 1 car theft, and 1 instance of arson. Official arrest records in Caroline County can be found through the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office. Records are available but in order to make a request, interested parties will need a report number, the incident date, time and location, the name of the deputy involved, the tags of any vehicle involved, and a valid picture ID. Incident reports can be obtained for $5 either in person or via mail at 118 Courthouse Lane, P.O. Box 39, Bowling Green, VA. Requests typically take 2 to 4 days to process. For more information, call 804-633-1120.