FRONT ROYAL — The recently released Virginia State Police crime statistics show that Front Royal saw 223 more offenses in 2017 compared to 2018, an increase represented by slight jumps in certain crimes, but no large bump in any particular area.
Front Royal Chief of Police Kahle Magalis noted that “a lot of the numbers are fairly in line with years past, so we haven’t seen any spikes, which is a good thing” and “there hasn’t been a great influx of any negative influences within the community.”
The report includes the “group A offenses” category consisting of “crimes against persons,” “crimes against property,” and “crimes against safety.” These offenses totaled 1,228 in 2018, compared to 1,005 in 2017.
Magalis said that does not represent every call — over 3,000 — to which the department responded. For example, he said statistics not shown include responses to loud music, parking problems, funeral escorts and more.
He said the stats are “absolutely” helpful as the department tries to use “data-driven” and “evidence-based policing.”
“We can see what kind of issues that we have and try to boil that down to more effectively utilize our resources, staff and equipment to try and maximize what type of impact we can have in the community,” Magalis said.
The most common offense in 2018 — falling in the crimes against persons category — was simple assault with 325 occurrences compared to 344 in 2017.
“Until we can figure out how to make people be nice to each other, I’m not sure that’s something we can fix,” Magalis said.
There were no murders or manslaughters in 2018. In 2017, two murders occurred within two days, which Magalis described as “an anomaly.”
“You just don’t have those type of things happen with that frequency around here,” he said.
Other crimes against persons in 2018 included: kidnapping and abduction (one); forcible rape (nine); forcible sodomy (one); sexual assault with an object (seven): forcible fondling (two); incest (zero); statutory rape (zero); aggravated assault (11); intimidation (66).
Crimes against persons that did not occur in 2018 or 2017 included incest and statutory rape. There were also no human trafficking offenses, which is broken into the categories of “commercial sex acts” and “involuntary servitude.”
The most frequent “crimes against society” in 2018 were drug and narcotic offenses at 132, compared to 108 in 2017.
Magalis said the slight rise in drug offenses may have resulted from a narcotics canine officer being added. He said some drug offenses are not reflected in the statistics because the Drug Task Force’s arrests are filed under the Virginia State Police.
Other crimes against society in 2018 included: drug equipment violations (20); pornography/obscene materials (two); prostitution (four); and weapon law violations (15).
Crimes against society that occurred neither in 2018 or 2017 included: betting and wagering; operating, promoting or assisting gambling; gambling equipment violations; assisting or promoting prostitution; and animal cruelty.
The most common “crime against property” in 2018 was vandalism, destruction or damage of property at 209, up from 163 in 2017.
“Oftentimes, that’s kids...you get a rash of them from time to time and we just happened to have more this past year,” Magalis said.
Other “crimes against property” in 2018 included: arson (one); burglary/breaking and entering (25); embezzlement (four); extortion and blackmail (one); obtaining money by false pretenses (78); credit card fraud (17); impersonation (five); welfare fraud (two); wire fraud (four); robbery (six); pocket picking (two); purse snatching (two); shoplifting (34); theft from building (58); theft from coin-operated machine or device (one); theft from motor vehicle (72); all other larceny (71); motor vehicle theft (15); and stolen property offenses (three).
Regarding larcenies, Magalis said the department tries to be proactive in educating citizens to lock their cars and houses.
“We live in small town America but at the same time, people should still be locking their cars and their homes,” he said. “Unfortunately, they don’t take some of those basic precautions. But part of that is because we do live in such a quiet little town, relatively speaking, with everything that’s been going on lately.”
Crimes against property that did not occur in 2018 or 2017 in Front Royal included bribery, identity theft, computer hacking and theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories.
Listed under the “group B offenses” category are: 165 reports of drunkenness; driving under the influence (42); trespass of real property (30); liquor law violations (nine); disorderly conduct (seven) and bad checks (one).
All of the reported incidents resulted in 925 arrests, according to the report.
Magalis said the Front Royal Police Department last year had 52 total employees, including 39 male officers, two female officers and 13 civilian employees. In an ideal world, Magalis said the office would have four more officers, or “one for each shift.”
“We could always use more. We’re doing the best we can with what we have,” Magalis said. “We’ve got a fantastic organization here...I’m just proud of everybody that’s here doing such a great job for our community.”