The Cranky Taxpayer

The Cranky Taxpayer

Forest Hill Neighborhood


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Offenses by Block


The Police Department database gives a snapshot of what is happening in the Forest Hill area.

First the geography: In the Police database, the Forest Hill Neighborhood runs from the Park to Westover Hills Blvd. and from Forest Hill Ave. to the River:

As you see, this does not include all of the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association area and does include some of the Westover Hills Association area.

Microsoft has a nice view of the area.

Warning: The data below by block are distorted in a few cases by counting only one side of the street on the boundary.  For example, the data for the 4700 and 4800 blocks of Forest Hill Ave. count only the data from the north side of the street.

Here are the most numerous offense report counts for the Forest Hill Neighborhood for 1/1/00 through 12/31/18, duplicate reports deleted.  I have highlighted the drug and violent offenses for emphasis.

Offense Count %
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 561 27%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 261 13%
ALL OTHER LARCENY 136 6.5%
HIT AND RUN 136 6.5%
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT 89 4.3%
BURGLARY/B&E/RESIDENTIAL 82 3.9%
THEFT FROM BUILDING 67 3.2%
NATURAL DEATH 56 2.7%

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON

55 2.6%
SIMPLE ASSAULT 46 2.2%
BURGLARY/B&E/OUTBUILDING 41 2.0%
THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE PARTS/ACCESSORIES 39 1.9%
CITY CODE VIOLATIONS 34 1.6%
DRUG/NARCOTIC VIOLATION 26 1.2%
TAMPERING WITH AUTO 26 1.2%
FOUND PROPERTY 26 1.2%
BURGLARY/B&E/COMMERCIAL 25 1.2%
SIMPLE ASSAULT, DOMESTIC 24 1.2%
FRAUD, CREDIT CARD 24 1.2%
LOST / MISSING / SUSPICIOUS PROPERTY 23 1.1%
     
Total 2082  

You might notice that promiscuous shooting reports did not make that summary (only one report in eighteen years).  If you live near the park, you know there's been a fair amount of gunfire, especially before they installed the gates, and we know one neighbor who has called multiple times.  I don't know about you but it inserts in me the worm of worry about the accuracy of the data.

The Good News here is that the most numerous offenses are nonviolent.  Property crimes dominate the list, as one might expect for a residential area.

The Bad News is that our most common crime is a threat to the neighborhood and is almost completely preventable.

*** Rant Begins ***

By far the most common offense (27% in this time frame) is "Theft from Motor Vehicle." That crime (and much of the property destruction that reflects broken car windows) would entirely disappear if we (and the people who visit in our neighborhood, see below) would lock our stuff in the trunk or take it into the house. Indeed, our bad habits in this respect have the unfortunate effect of chumming the neighborhood to attract criminals.

This is a particularly clear demonstration of the general proposition (one you will see stated elsewhere in these pages) that "they" (being the cops, the City, the federal government, the schools, or anybody else you choose to blame) are not responsible for solving our crime problem; we are the front line.

*** Rant Ends ***

Aside from the low rate of violent crime in our neighborhood, the Very Good News is that the crime rate is decreasing:

The red line is the raw count of offense reports by year.  The orange is thefts from motor vehicle.

We could speculate that the bump in 2010 reflects the recent recession and, perhaps, the considerable post-recession use of the Park.

Much of the decrease has been driven by a decrease in thefts from motor vehicles.  See below for one reason for the decrease in thefts from vehicles after 2006-07.

Turning to location, here are the blocks with the most offense reports:

Block Total  
4200 Block RIVERSIDE DR 335 16%
4400 Block Forest Hill Ave 172 8.3%
4100 Block RIVERSIDE DR 119 5.7%
4700 Block FOREST HILL AVE 63 3.0%
4800 Block Forest Hill Ave 53 2.5%
4100 Block Hillcrest Road 44 2.1%
4600 Block DEVONSHIRE ROAD 40 1.9%
4500 Block Forest Hill Ave 39 1.9%
4400 Block Stonewall Ave 38 1.8%
4700 Block King William Road 35 1.7%
4200 Block Forest Hill Ave 32 1.5%
4000 Block RIVERSIDE DR 32 1.5%
4700 Block Sylvan Road 30 1.4%
4600 Block King William Road 29 1.4%
1500 Block Cedar Lane 29 1.4%
4900 Block Riverside Dr 28 1.3%
4200 Block Smithdeal Ave 27 1.3%
4300 Block Hillcrest Road 27 1.3%
4200 Block Springhill Ave 26 1.2%
1400 Block Cedar Lane 26 1.2%
4200 Block HILLCREST ROAD 26 1.2%
     
Total 2082  
Average of All Blocks 19.6  
Median Block 11.5  

For a complete list, sorted by block, follow this link.

 

The Top Five Blocks

First: 4200 Riverside Drive (16.9% of the reports).

A graph showing the counts for the top five blocks emphasizes how far out of line the count is at the 4200 block:

Fifty percent of the offense reports in the 4200 block are thefts from motor vehicles.  Another 16% are property destruction, such as broken car windows where there was something tempting on a seat.

4200 Block RIVERSIDE DR Count %
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 166 50%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 55 16%
CITY CODE VIOLATIONS 34 10%
ALL OTHER LARCENY 11 3.3%
ALL OTHER OFFENSES 7 2.1%
HIT AND RUN 5 1.5%
INDECENT EXPOSURE 5 1.5%
SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON 5 1.5%
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT 4 1.2%
LIQUOR LAW VIOLATIONS 3  
BURGLARY/B&E/RESIDENTIAL 3  
BURGLARY/B&E/OUTBUILDING 3  
TRESPASS OF REAL PROPERTY 3  
DRUG/NARCOTIC VIOLATION 3  
FOUND PROPERTY 3  
RECOVERED VEHICLE-STOLEN OTHER JURIS. 2  
THEFT FROM BUILDING 2  
SIMPLE ASSAULT 2  
COURT DOCUMENTS 2  
FRAUD, CREDIT CARD 2  
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/CITY PROPERTY 1  
DEATH BY DROWNING 1  
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS 1  
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 1  
IMPERSONATION 1  
LOST / MISSING / SUSPICIOUS PROPERTY 1  
SUICIDE 1  
ARSON 1  
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT 1  
NATURAL DEATH 1  
THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE PARTS/ACCESSORIES 1  
OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE 1  
UNINTENTIONAL DEATH 1  
DUI, ALCOHOL 1  
FORGERY BY CREDIT CARD 1  
Grand Total 335  

The location code descriptions of the thefts from motor vehicle reported in this block show that 62% are in a parking lot.

Location Count  
PARKING LOT / GARAGE  103 62%
HIGHWAY / ROAD / ALLEY  44 27%
OTHER / UNKNOWN 10 6%
PARK/PLAYGROUND 2  
RESIDENCE/HOME  2  
LAKE / WATERWAY 2  
GROCERY / SUPERMARKET 1  
FIELD / WOODS 1  
LIQUOR STORE  1  
Grand Total 166  

Some of the entries (notably the lake, convenience store, liquor store, and grocery) suggest that the officers sometimes don't pay undue attention to the location code.

Two of the drug reports are in "parking lot/garage."  The other is "lake/waterway," presumably down at the river.  Likewise 29 of the 55 private property destruction reports are from the parking lot, with another 20 on the street.

This very high rate in a residential neighborhood, where one side of the street is trees, suggests that the lowlives who are chummed into the neighborhood by the stuff left in cars are causing other problems.

The data comport with our experience: The nexus of the problem in this block is the 42d St. parking lot of James River Park.

We have Good News here: The new gates (when they are closed) largely eliminate the nighttime disorder in the park.  Most of the car breakins have been in the lower lot, presumably because the area is harder to see from the road.  In 2006, Ralph White and his folks blocked off most of the parking spaces there and Parks began closing the gates on weekdays.

j

The results were helpful.

This led to a new normal of about 4 car breakins per year, vs. the earlier normal of four times that.

I ascribe the recent increase to the considerably increased use of the park and the removal of the rocks in 2016.

There are two lessons here:

  • Leaving stuff in the car, especially in an unlocked car, is an invitation to lose the stuff and to help chum the neighborhood for criminals; and
  • Given that most of the thefts are from the vehicles of park visitors, itís past time for some LARGE signs in the 4200 block and at the Nature Center and 4100 Hillcrest and, especially, in the 42d St. parking lot, to warn the visitors:
                                            
    Car Breakins Here! Lock your junk in your trunk.

If you share my view on that, please contact our Councilwoman and the Third Precinct.

 

Second: 4400 block of Forest Hill Ave. (8.3% of the reports).  Note that the data here cover only the church and commercial properties on the north side of the street.

The numbers in 4400 Forest Hill show a different pattern

4400 Block Forest Hill Ave Count %
NATURAL DEATH 38 22%
SIMPLE ASSAULT 26 15%
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 11 6%
THEFT FROM BUILDING 8 4.7%
SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON 7 4.1%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 7 4.1%
ALL OTHER LARCENY 6 3.5%
HIT AND RUN 6 3.5%
LOST / MISSING / SUSPICIOUS PROPERTY 6 3.5%
MISSING PERSON 5  
FOUND PROPERTY 4  
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT 4  
SEXUAL BATTERY 3  
ANNOYING PHONE CALLS 3  
YOUTH AND FAMILY CRIMES INQUIRY 3  
OBSCENE/THREATENING PHONE CALL 2  
TAMPERING WITH AUTO 2  
FALSE PRETENSES/SWINDLE/CONFIDENCE GAME 2  
UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE 2  
ROBBERY/INDIVIDUAL 2  
THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE PARTS/ACCESSORIES 2  
SUDDEN DEATH 2  
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 2  
SIMPLE ASSAULT, DOMESTIC 2  
ACCIDENTAL DEATH 2  
DEATH INVESTIGATION (MATTER PENDING) 1  
AGGRAVATED SEXUAL BATTERY 1  
DRUG/NARCOTIC VIOLATION 1  
BOMB THREAT 1  
WEAPON LAW VIOLATIONS, CONCEALED WEAPON 1  
FRAUD, ATM 1  
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT 1  
FRAUD, CREDIT CARD 1  
EMBEZZLEMENT 1  
BURGLARY/B&E/COMMERCIAL 1  
UNINTENTIONAL DEATH 1  

Past looks at this block showed that most of the reports came from the nursing home at 4403.

In the past, the database showed the actual address of each report except where there was a reason, e.g., sex crime, to just report the block.  In those cases, the addresses showed with the last two digits as XX, e.g., 44XX.  They now report all the addresses with the last two digits as XX.  They have not articulated any reason for concealing this information from the public.  Sigh!

We might expect that the major problem in this block continues to be the nursing home but the current data cannot show that.

Indeed, there are only four structures on the north side of this block: the church, one medical office, one former medical office, and the nursing home.  We just don't see many assaults, kidnappings, or sexual batteries in churches or medical offices.  So even without the old data we could infer that the nursing home is the problem in this block.

The natural deaths among the patients at the nursing home probably are not a problem for the neighborhood.  Some of the other, rough, stuff should be a concern.  Indeed, if the natural deaths were not counted, this block would still be ahead of the commercial block at 4700 Forest Hill.

Third: 4100 block of Riverside Drive (5.7% of the reports).

The 4100 Block of Riverside runs a distant third to the 4200 block but the problem there, again, is thefts from motor vehicles

4100 Block RIVERSIDE DR Count %
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 68 57%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 16 13%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/CITY PROPERTY 5 4%
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT 4 3.4%
FRAUD, CREDIT CARD 3 2.5%
HIT AND RUN 3 2.5%
TRESPASS OF REAL PROPERTY 2 1.7%
COURT DOCUMENTS 2 1.7%
ALL OTHER OFFENSES 2 1.7%
DRUG/NARCOTIC VIOLATION 2  
BURGLARY/B&E/COMMERCIAL 1  
POSSESSION OF BURGLARY TOOLS 1  
NATURAL DEATH 1  
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE/GRAFFITI 1  
SIMPLE ASSAULT 1  
SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE 1  
SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON 1  
ALL OTHER LARCENY 1  
TAMPERING WITH AUTO 1  
FORGERY BY CREDIT CARD 1  
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 1  
FOUND PROPERTY 1  
Grand Total 119  

mostly in the parking lot of James River Park.

Location Count  
PARKING LOT / GARAGE  79 66%
HIGHWAY / ROAD / ALLEY  11 9%
OTHER / UNKNOWN 10 8%
PARK/PLAYGROUND 7  
FIELD / WOODS 6  
GOVERNMENT / PUBLIC BUILDING  2  
SERVICE / GAS STATION 1  
RESTAURANT  1  
DEPARTMENT / DISCOUNT STORE 1  
PHARMACY/DR`S OFFICE/HOSPITAL 1  
Total 119  

 

The problem continues. We can wonder whether the recent increase is related to the loss of the (most welcome) attention to the parking lot by our bicycle officer, Stacy Rogers.

 

Fourth: 4700 Forest Hill Ave. (3.0%) (again, just the north side of the street). 

Ordinarily, one would expect the center of disorder to be the commercial district.  In our neighborhood, the anomalies of the Park and the nursing home push the highest block in the commercial district down to fourth. 

4700 Block FOREST HILL AVE Count %
HIT AND RUN 7 11%
ROBBERY/INDIVIDUAL 5 8%
LOST / MISSING / SUSPICIOUS PROPERTY 5 8%
FORGERY BY CHECK 5 7.9%
FORGERY/COUNTERFEITING/ALL OTHER 4 6.3%
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 4 6.3%
SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON 3 4.8%
THEFT FROM BUILDING 3 4.8%
ALL OTHER LARCENY 3 4.8%
FOUND PROPERTY 3 4.8%
MENTAL SUBJECT 2 3.2%
FRAUD, ATM 2 3.2%
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 2 3.2%
IMPERSONATION 2 3.2%
SIMPLE ASSAULT 1  
TRESPASS OF REAL PROPERTY 1  
COURT DOCUMENTS 1  
LOST / SUSPICIOUS PROPERTY 1  
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/CITY PROPERTY 1  
ANNOYING PHONE CALLS 1  
FRAUD/FORGERY INCIDENT 1  
PICKPOCKET 1  
FORGERY BY CREDIT CARD 1  
ROBBERY/ATM 1  
YOUTH AND FAMILY CRIMES INQUIRY 1  
ROBBERY/BANK 1  
DISORDERLY CONDUCT 1  
Grand Total 63  

Fifth:  4800 Forest Hill Ave

Again, the commercial district.  Again only the north side of the street.

4800 Block Forest Hill Ave Count %
DESTRUCTION PROPERTY/PRIVATE PROPERTY 9 17%
SIMPLE ASSAULT 5 9%
HIT AND RUN 5 9%
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE 4 7.5%
ALL OTHER LARCENY 4 7.5%
OBSCENE/THREATENING PHONE CALL 3 5.7%
BURGLARY/B&E/COMMERCIAL 3 5.7%
THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE PARTS/ACCESSORIES 2 3.8%
THEFT FROM BUILDING 2 3.8%
FOUND PROPERTY 2 3.8%
SIMPLE ASSAULT, DOMESTIC 2 3.8%
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT 2 3.8%
FRAUD, CREDIT CARD 1  
DUI, ALCOHOL 1  
MISSING PERSON 1  
FALSE PRETENSES/SWINDLE/CONFIDENCE GAME 1  
SUSPICIOUS SITUATION/PERSON 1  
ROBBERY/INDIVIDUAL 1  
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 1  
SHOOTING AT/WITHIN OCCUPIED DWELLING 1  
EMBEZZLEMENT 1  
ANNOYING PHONE CALLS 1  
Grand Total 53  

 

CONCLUSIONS

See elsewhere for an analysis of the drug problems near our neighborhood.  Of course, the drug dealing and other disorder in the nearby apartment complexes contribute to the property and other crime in our peaceful neighborhood (and in the Park).  Here is what a Justice Department Monograph says on that subject:

Drug dealing in apartment complexes can attract other nuisance behavior that diminishes the residents' quality of life, such as loitering; littering (including drug paraphernalia and used condoms); trespassing; prostitution (including illegal sexual activity on the property, in nearby yards, in alleys, or in driveways); drug use; abandoned vehicles; speeding vehicles; parking problems; unwanted additional foot, car and bicycle traffic in residential neighborhoods; public drinking; public urination; gang formation; graffiti (establishing turf ownership of a drug market); assaults; auto theft; auto breakins; residential and commercial burglaries; possession of and trafficking in stolen property; weapons violations (including gun possession and gun trafficking); robberies; drive-by shootings; or other violent crime (including homicide). This helps explain why successfully tackling a drug market can bring about substantial decreases in crime in the surrounding area.

These Forest Hill data suggest (at least) two conclusions:

  • Our visitors are our biggest crime problem (for leaving stuff in their vehicles and, in most cases, leaving the vehicles unlocked); and

  • The nursing home probably needs a close looking over.

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Last updated 07/18/19
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher