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Violent crime skyrockets in Richmond’s Northside

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RICHMOND, Va.  -- An uptick in violent crime on Richmond’s Northside has police working to make the neighborhood safer.

Officials said there were 22 violent crimes in October in one section of the Northside, including 11 robberies and nine aggravated assaults. That's up seven from the same time last year, when there were 15 violent crimes.

Richmond police, who have been monitoring the concerning trend, are stepping up patrols in the neighborhood and even updating neighbors on crime via a community newsletter.

Audrey Garner, a longtime Highland Park resident, said she has seen the highs and lows when it comes to crime. She vividly remembers the days when people were afraid to leave their homes after dark.

“It makes you scared when you can't come out, but it's good now,” Garner said, who admits there is always work to do when it comes to crime.

Richmond Police Lt. Lewis Mills said the recent spike in brazen, violent crimes has pushed the RPD to respond aggressively.

"We have a couple bad actors who have recently come back to the community after lengthy incarcerations,” said Mills. “Then there’s always somebody new, who based on their own personal calculus, they’re going to pick up a firearm, they’re going to start robbing people, they’re going to start shooting.”

Storeowner Hambdy Elaal, whose business was broken into three weeks ago, is hopeful the increase will help deter crooks.  He reflected that only two years ago, blatant drug deals were going down in front of his business.

These days he is relieved things have settled down and officers are visible in the community.

In fact, some business owners said it is not uncommon for RPD officers to stop by two or three times a day to check up on things.

Officers are hopeful their presence and support from the community will send a strong message to those who think they can continue to do their crimes in this neighborhood.

"I hope they are watching right now, because it only ends one way. And that’s a prison cell,” said Mills.

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