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FCPD: Fairfax County is ‘safest’ jurisdiction of its size, but shoplifting, officer assaults on the rise in 2023

Fairfax County police vehicle with lights (file photo)

The Fairfax County Police Department touted the county’s status as the safest jurisdiction of its size following the release of its year-end crime report.

The report — which is based on violent crime rates among participating agencies evaluated by the Major Cities Chief Association — shows that Fairfax County’s rate is the lowest among jurisdictions of comparable size. Homicide offenses, sex offenses, burglaries, and robberies all declined between 2022 and 2023, according to the report.

“The central message conveyed in this report is clear — Fairfax County stands as the safest large jurisdiction in America. Through data-informed enforcement strategies, FCPD played a pivotal role in reducing violent crime rates,” FCPD wrote in a press release.

At a safety and security committee meeting before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on March 12, Police Chief Kevin Davis said that all 17 murders last year were solved. Homicides were down 23% over the previous year.

FCPD also stepped up the number of traffic summonses, issuing nearly 40% more in 2023 than in 2022 for violations like speeding, reckless driving, and hands-free violations.

Theft of motor vehicle parts was a major focus this year. The number of thefts decreased from 1,516 in 2022 to 875 in 2023, a trend observed in the FCPD’s mid-year crime report.

But the decrease in the theft of motor vehicle parts was offset by an increase in shoplifting, which rose from 5,799 incidents in 2022 to 8,156 last year. Additionally, 126 more vehicles were stolen in 2023 than in 2022.

Most cars that were stolen were either Kias and Hyundais, particularly in the Mount Vernon District, according to FCPD. They were often later recovered in D.C. or Prince George’s County.

Officers increased their presence in malls during the winter holiday season. Springfield’s Christmas anti-theft team recovered more than $100,000 of stolen merchandise last year compared to $30,000 in 2022, according to the FCPD.

Davis noted that organized groups appear to be targeted high-end merchandise in large quantities, later reselling the items on Facebook Marketplace.

“Everyone is jumping up and down about what we need to do to prevent, mitigate, and hold these really organized groups better accountable,” Davis said, adding that the problem appears to be region-wide.

A one-day symposium is planned in April for regional authorities to explore “innovative” solutions, Davis said.

The department also reported 472 assaults against its officers this year — an increase from 378 in 2022. Davis said 5% of all assault crimes were against law enforcement officers.

“It has our attention and we’re taking steps to mitigate it,” Davis said.

Overall, there were 1,161 assaults between 2022 and 2023, according to the report, although most offenses were not aggravated. Most assaults are “domestic in nature or involve parties known to each other,” the police department says.

“FCPD worked hard to combat this issue by placing over 34,000 criminal charges on over 23,000 individuals responsible for crimes in Fairfax County last year,” the FCPD said in a news release.

While pedestrian fatalities decreased in 2023, which had nine deaths, FCPD has launched a collaborative effort with local transportation officials and other community partners to review pedestrian fatalities and significant injuries. Between 2019 and 2022, 77 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes.

Most incidents happened at night, Davis said.

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