Crime is generally pretty low in Strasburg compared to other towns in Virginia, but Police Chief Wayne Sager said certain crimes are a persistent problem.
“Our biggest crime is going to be the drug crimes,” he said.
Though drug abuse is a huge concern in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Sager said drug crimes lead to other crimes as well, such as robberies, larcenies and various violent crimes like assault and murder.
“Nobody can fight the war on drugs alone,” Sager said, noting they have been working with the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force to help identify and combat the problem of drug abuse in the community.
To help educate and promote awareness of the region’s drug crisis, Strasburg has assigned two investigators to the task force, Sager said. A solution, he said, requires both law enforcement and rehabilitation.
The Strasburg Police Department has 18 full-time sworn employees: 12 patrol officers; three investigators; one officer who works crimes against children; and the two drug task force officers. The department also has three part-time officers and one full-time civilian employee.
“Being a small [department], we wear multiple hats,” Sager said.
Discussing the town’s crime statistics as part of Virginia’s recently released crime report, he noted there was an increase in crimes around town from 2017 to 2018.
Drug/narcotic violations were by far the top-reported offenses in Strasburg in 2018, with 110 reported offenses. That’s about one drug offense every three to four days, not including alcohol-related offenses.
The next highest number of offenses was destruction/damage/vandalism of property, with 51 offenses last year, followed by 31 simple assaults reported last year.
Simple assaults reported in 2018 were down from the 50 reported in 2017.
Strasburg’s lowest crime numbers concern violent crimes. In 2018, one forcible rape was reported (down from two in 2017); and there were seven other forcible sex offenses reported in 2018 (up from four reported in 2017.) One arson was reported in 2018.
No reports of murder, negligent manslaughter or kidnapping/abduction in Strasburg were listed for 2017 or 2018. However, aggravated assaults increased by 200 percent, from four reported in 2017 to 12 in 2018.
The town had 14 burglaries or breaking and entering reports, 13 false pretenses/swindling/confidence game offenses, 28 thefts from buildings, 22 thefts from motor vehicles, 11 other larcenies and 12 weapons law violations.
Sager said residents can better protect themselves against being a victim of theft if they’re vigilant about locking their cars, homes and businesses.
In a drug world, he explained, people in search of money or items to sell for money are going to opt for the easiest ways of getting it.
“Don’t make yourself a soft target,” he said.
Reflecting on the past year, Sager said, “The Kyle Sunday case sticks out for me.”
Haymarket resident Kyle Steven Sunday, 29, was convicted on June 12 of child neglect, eluding law enforcement, destruction of property and a third offense of driving on a revoked or suspended license.
Sunday pleaded no contest to all charges, which date to August 2018, when he led Strasburg police on a vehicle pursuit and then a foot chase.
“That’s when we solicited the community’s help,” Sager said.
Sunday had his 2-year-old son with him during the chase and threw the child into a creek while running from police. Thanks to tips from the community listening to police scanner traffic, police rescued the child and later apprehended Sunday.
“We need the community’s support,” Sager said, adding that the Police Department encourages people to report anything that’s not right.
“If you see something, say something,” Sager said.