Potomac News Online | Manassas crime drops in 2004

A rise in street gang activity increased aggravated assaults 19 percent last year in Manassas, but overall crime showed a slight drop for the second straight year, Chief of Police John J. Skinner said Tuesday as he released the department’s annual statistical report.

Overall crime numbers from 2004 stayed consistent with those from previous years, with violent crime rising one percent and overall crime dropping one percent from 2003.

However, violent crime has dropped 9 percent from 2000 to 2004, and juvenile arrests are down 73 percent in that same period.

“It’s a very positive trend that we attribute to the commitment of our officers and the communication we have with the community,” Skinner said.

The most noticeable increase, though, was in aggravated assaults with 13 more in 2004 than last year. Most of or the assaults occurred in the Georgetown South area, which houses roughly 9 percent of the city’s residents.

Skinner said the rise in gang activity contributed to this and the department is working, particularly with the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, to combat the problem.

“We’ve decided that with the growing gang concerns to work with the task force,” Skinner said. “These gangs are very mobile and move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it’s better for us to work as a group in this regard then trying to do it all ourselves.”

There were three murders in the city last year, down one from 2003, but two more rapes. The biggest increase came in burglaries, which rose 32 percent from the previous year.

Skinner attributed the rise to a burglary ring that hit at least 30 homes in the city last summer.

“In a city like ours where there is not a large population, one group of people can dramatically change the numbers,” Skinner said. “We try to look at five-year blocks to see if there are any trends developing that we need to be aware of.”

The department’s jurisdiction covers roughly 12 square miles, broken into six beats, with 83 on-duty officers, about five below ideal, Skinner said.

The city’s population has risen slightly from just over 35,000 in 2000 to just over 37,000 in 2004. The number of crimes overall has dropped roughly three percent in that time.

The city’s crime index, the number of crimes per 1,000 residents, has dropped each of the last five years — from 41 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2000 to 35 in 2004.

The department’s complete statistical report can be viewed online at http://www.manassascity.org.


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