The Cranky Taxpayer

The Cranky Taxpayer

400-600 Westover Hills

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If you follow the crime incident reports from the Police Department you will notice a lot of reports from the 400 and 600 blocks of Westover Hills Boulevard.  There is a lot of disorder in those blocks.

Headed north, the 400 block is immediately north of Crutchfield Street (just after you leave the Midlothian Turnpike bridge.  Except for the three commercial structures at 400, 402, and 404, the Somerset Glen apartment complex occupies all of the 400 block on both sides of street.

The next set of apartments to the north is in the 600 block, which is Ashton Square on the east side.

(That concrete channel you see winding thru and between the two complexes is Reedy Creek.)

The disorder here shows up in the Police Department's IBRS Database.   Indeed, it shows much too frequently.

Caveats: These data change from day to day as RPD updates old cases to reflect further information (e.g., false reports).  The data here are as of July 19, 2016.  I have deleted the 7,599 (of 45,551) reports where the incident number and offense code are duplicated (those reports typically differ only in some lesser respect).

Further Caveats: More annoyingly, RPD a few years ago stopped posting these data by address.  Formerly only sex offenses were reported by block; now all the data are.  This makes it a bit easier on the Richmond computer system and makes it impossible to know exactly where the crimes are being committed.  That is, they have it backwards: They are making it easier for the bureaucrats, harder for the citizens.  Because of this, the data must be viewed with some skepticism.  For example, a drug bust may take place in a building, on the lawn, or out in the street; these bowdlerized data do not allow us to notice those important distinctions.

Here, then, from that database, is a graph of the most frequently reported offenses for calendar 2015.

And here is the list of ten blocks with the highest count of offenses reported (with the 15th place block added for neighborhood interest):

Rank Block Count What's There
1 4000 Block MIDLOTHIAN TPKE 221 Apartments
2 2400 Block SHEILA LANE 220 Commercial
3 400 Block WESTOVER HILLS BLVD 139 Apartments
4 6300 Block Midlothian Tpke 138 Commercial
5 2900 Block JEFFERSON DAVIS HWY 132 Commercial; Trailer Park
6 900 Block N Lombardy St 130 Commercial
7 6500 Block MIDLOTHIAN TPKE 116 Commercial; Motel
8 3000 Block JEFFERSON DAVIS HWY 115 Commercial
9 1300 Block COALTER ST 115 RRHA
10 3400 Block WALMSLEY BLVD 110 Residential; near Apts.
  * * *     
15 600 Block WESTOVER HILLS BLVD 93 Apartments
  * * *     
  Total 33945  
  Mean 5.7  
  Median 3  

Thus, among the "leaders" here, you see the apartments in the 400 and 600 blocks of Westover Hills, near our neighborhood, in the company of the (notorious and nearly as nearby) Midlothian Village in the 4000 block of Midlo. Tpk.

Just for context: There are about 5962 blocks with offenses reported in the database for the year (the "about" comes from the way the database reports some addresses).  The average block has 5.7 offenses for the year; the median block has 3 reports.  Thus, the two "leaders" here have over 38 times the average number of offenses reported per block and over 73 times the median.

A glance at the data reveals some patterns: The commercial areas predominantly report commercial crimes.  For instance, 138 of the 220 entries for our Wal-Mart block are shoplifting; another 17 are hit and run, i.e., vehicles whacked in the parking lot.  Here is a summary of the top few.

Apartments show two patterns: the RRHA blocks and the 4000 block of Midlothian Turnpike (i.e., the Midlothian Village Apartments), show the drug market pattern: High rates of drug and violent crime and high property destruction rates with relatively lower rates of other property crime (doubtless much of it unreported).  For instance, here are the patterns for the 4000 block of Midlo Tpk. and the 1300 block of Coalter (RRHA) for the year:

The other apartment pattern shows less drug and violent crime, more property crime.  For example, the 000 block of Malvern Ave. (the Malvern Manor Apts.) shows only property crime and hit and run (out in the street or lot?) and a runaway, for a grand total of eight:

The apartments on Westover Hills look more like RRHA.  First, the 400 block:

And the 600 block:

The Good News here is the lower rate of drug offenses; the less good news is the too large numbers of assaults. 

In the past, a higher rate of property crime on Westover Hills suggested that much of the disorder was imported, i.e., that the apartments there were a target more than a source of disorder.  That no longer seems to be the case.  In any event, the landlord is the key to preventing the disorder, whether indigenous or exogenous[1].

The apartments in the 400 and 600 blocks are just over Bassett Ave. from the 4th District; they are split between the 5th and 9th Districts, with the Somerset Glen pool in the 8th.

Mr. Agelasto of the 5th has been active and helpful in dealing with the Midlo Village.  It would be good to see the same level of interest from Ms. Mosby of the 9th (and, perhaps, Ms. Trammel of the 8th) in focusing these landlords on the need to clean up their acts.  Or, still more to the point, perhaps our Civic Association would like to focus some energy on this problem?

[1] The feds tell us "(1) that effective property management can have a major impact on the health of a community, and (2) that accessible, legitimate techniques can be used to stop the spread of drug activity on rental property."

Indeed, as to drugs, at least, nuisance abatement is the sole tactic that has been shown scientifically to reduce crime in residential places.  The DOJ monograph says: "With the evidence available we are relatively certain that holding private landlords accountable for drug dealing on their property by threatening abatement reduces drug related crimes."  Whether as to drug activity or other disorder, the landlord is the only entity that can make the physical changes to the property, evict the troublesome tenants, hire the security, control the access, and enforce the lease terms necessary to make the property safe.  Our job as neighbors is to make sure that the landlords take those measures.

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Last updated 07/20/16
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher