RICHMOND, Va.(WTVR) - The Richmond Police Department, and a specialized unit the department deploys called the "Focus Mission Team," is cracking down on surging property theft.
The department nabbed four men in the last two weeks accused of burglarizing homes and leaving with valuable electronics and jewelry.
“We were looking at patterns, time of day, the busiest day of the week, and when were the most houses hit,” explained Detective George Mihalcoe with Richmond’s First Precinct.
“We found it alarming when we got into the third month of this year and realized, we had a problem,” said Mihalcoe.
The detective is talking about a spike in residential breaking-and-entering reports, concentrated in the Oak Grove/Blackwell area of South Richmond.
Through May 20, Richmond Police had recorded 45 property crimes in those two neighborhoods, up from just 18 over the same time period last year. That’s an increase of 150 percent.
Mihalcoe said he’s not sure what to attribute the rise to, but the recent arrests of Jermain Brown, Anthony Thornton, Paul Moore and Raymond Smith account for 33 of the 45 incidents.
Since the arrests on May 8th and 9th, Richmond has responded to just one such crime, which is “a real good deal for us,” according to Mihalcoe.
Residents CBS 6 spoke to in the Oak Grove community, like long-time Richmonder Bobby Peoples, applauded the city’s police department for putting the clamps down on property theft.
“Most of the people in this neighborhood, when you walk up to them the first thing they’ll talk about is people breaking into houses,” said Peoples. “I see police coming through on bikes, sometimes on horses, they’ll walk by on-foot -I think they’re doing the best job they can.”
For Lenny Martin, who recently moved to Oak Grove and has seen six homes on his street robbed in just the last few weeks, the police intervention is welcomed but a little late.
“Richmond Police are coming after the fact, they’re not taking preventative measures,” said Martin.
In response to the recent arrests, Martin added, “they’ve obviously stepped up their game, and they’ve become more proactive in the neighborhood, touching base with a lot of citizens -- so now it looks like they’re doing more.”
While property crime in the Oak Grove and Blackwell communities has jumped this year, violent crime is actually down.
The total number of reports so far this year is 10, down from 17 in the same time period a year ago. That’s a drop in violent crime of 41 percent.