Crime data for the first half of calendar year 2008 was released last month by the Fairfax County Police Department. While Fairfax remains one of the safest communities of its size in the nation, these statistics point out some emerging trends.
Larcenies are up by 15.7 percent from the same period last year, and the police department reports that GPS units continue to be one of the “hot commodities,” according to Chief David M. Rohrer. Any police officer will tell you that, even when you remove the unit so it can’t be seen, the little round smudge left by the suction cup still shows up on the windshield, advertising to thieves that there’s probably a GPS unit in the vehicle. You should hide the unit, and clean off the mark on the windshield, too!
Chief Rohrer also reports that robberies are down 25 percent (from 292 in the first half of 2007 to 218 in the first half of 2008), but that good news is offset by an 18 percent increase in aggravated assaults (174 in 2008 versus 147 in 2007). Total violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) is down 9.6 percent; property crime (burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft) increased 13.4 percent. Bottom line? Lock your vehicles. Lock your doors. One crime prevention officer told me: if the person at the door is not someone you would welcome with a hug, keep the door locked. A screen door only keeps the bugs out; it does not provide any level of security. Pay attention to your surroundings, especially in a dimly-lit parking lot. And call the police immediately if you are a victim of a crime or if something in your neighborhood just doesn’t seem right to you. Fairfax County is safe, but we can make it safer.
One crime not included in the report is identity theft. One way to prevent identity theft is to shred any documents that contain personal information before discarding them. This Saturday, September 6, the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program, in conjunction with my office, is sponsoring a mass shredding opportunity at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Up to five boxes of paper per resident will be accepted for shredding at no charge.
At the same time and place, Fairfax County residents (proof of residency is required) may bring their household hazardous waste for collection and recycling. Items accepted include acids, gasoline, fluorescent bulbs and CFLs, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, mercury products, oil-based paint, paint thinner, pesticides, poisons, pool chemicals, and rechargeable batteries (no automobile batteries will be accepted – take these to the I-66 Transfer Station or the 1-95 Landfill Complex). No business or commercial waste will be accepted. Because of space limitations, no computer recycling will be available.
Similar waste collection events have proven very popular, and the whole process is simple and time-efficient. Lines move quickly, and sometimes you don’t even have to get out of your car! I already have a box of old personal documents to shred, so I will look forward to seeing you on Saturday.