FRONT ROYAL — The overall number of reported criminal offenses in Warren County during 2018 represented a slight increase from 2017, according to recently released crime statistics by the Virginia State Police.
Sheriff Mike Arnold said the statistics are helpful in determining if the department needs to do something different and that he plans to review them with staff in an upcoming meeting. He noted that while they are helpful, with an office as small as Warren County, officers usually pick up if there is an alarming trend “long before that report comes out.”
He added that on first glance at the numbers, there does not seem to be any giant increases in any categories.
“I think we always work to reduce the numbers but we will never get to a point of having no crime because as you say there is a human factor involved,” Arnold said.
The statistics show that the number of reported offenses in 2018 was 643 compared to 527 in 2017. Those statistics are broken down into categories, including crimes against persons, crimes against property and crimes against society.
One of the most prevalent offenses in Warren County involved drugs and narcotics — which falls in the crimes against society category — with 149 incidents compared to 116 in 2017.
Arnold said he is not sure for the reason behind the slight increase in drug offenses, but it is likely partly because overdoses are now filed in that category.
The only other reported crimes against society offenses in 2018 were 20 drug equipment violations, 19 weapon violations and 10 involving pornography or obscene material. Crimes against society for which there were no reported offenses included: betting and wagering; operating, promoting or assisting gambling; gambling equipment violations; sports tampering; prostitution; and animal cruelty.
The most common crime against persons in Warren County was simple assault — 66 compared to 75 last year.
Also in 2018, the reported amounts of forcible rape more than doubled, increasing from nine in 2017 to 20. Meanwhile, the number of murders and negligent manslaughter dropped from one to zero.
Other reported crimes against persons in 2018 included 11 aggravated assaults, seven forcible sodomy; six intimidation offenses; three sexual assaults with an object; and three kidnapping or abductions. Those reported offenses netted five arrests, three relating to kidnapping or abduction and two for aggravated assault.
A variety of larceny offenses made up the bulk of the crimes against property with 55 reported shopliftings, 15 thefts from buildings, 10 thefts from motor vehicles, four thefts of motor vehicle parts or accessories and four stolen property offenses. There were also 90 offenses described as “all other larceny.” All of those make for 170 larceny-related offenses, compared to 196 in last year’s report, which did not break the larcenies down into specific categories.
Regarding larcenies, Arnold said, “I would just remind people to be vigilant” and “lock your doors and keep your valuables out of sight.”
The 643 total reported offenses resulted in 484 arrests, with 434 of those arrested being adults and the rest juveniles. That is compared to the 925 arrests made by the Front Royal Police Department. He said the numbers in the report are not representative of all calls to which the office responds — which is likely around 14,000 — such as livestock running at large and civil issues.
Arnold noted that it may seem odd that the Police Department, which has fewer officers than the Sheriff’s Office, would make more arrests but many of the sheriff’s deputies are assigned to court security, serving court process papers and Animal Control, none of which involve making arrests as a normal part of their duties.
According to the report, the Sheriff’s Office had 79 employees last year, including 46 male officers, 15 female officers and 18 civilians who served the county’s population of 24,391.