CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – What is the most common crime reported in West Virginia?
A new study from researchers with Jorge Vela Law, a criminal defense law firm in Texas, shows which crimes are the most prevalent in each state. The researchers looked at state-by-state statistics from the United States Bureau of Justice’s 2021 data to learn which crimes were the most commonly reported. Here’s what the study found out about crime in West Virginia.
“This data provides a fascinating insight into crime in the US. While incidents and charges may vary from state to state based on demographics and local laws, it is important to know which crimes are most prevalent in one’s area in order to know what security measures to take,” Jorge Vela Law said regarding the study.
For the Mountain State, the most common crimes reported were drug and narcotics violations. According to the study, these types of crimes accounted for 11,106 reported incidents in West Virginia in 2021. Drug and narcotics violations include charges such as possession, use, distribution, trafficking and manufacture/cultivation of controlled substances.
In recent years, West Virginia has filed multiple lawsuits against drug companies and pharmacies accused of allegedly contributing to the state’s opioid crisis, as well as combated the state’s drug issues through undercover drug busts such as “Operation Smoke and Mirrors,” which was the largest drug bust in state history. In that operation alone, law enforcement seized more than 200 pounds of methamphetamine along with 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms, and $747,000 in cash and 30 people were charged.
The second most common crime reported in the West Virginia was “all other larceny,” according to the study. This refers to the theft of material items when the alleged crime does not involve theft from a building or vehicle. According to the study, this accounted for 8,850 reported incidents in the Mountain State in 2021.
According to the study, the third most common crime reported in the Mountain State is “simple assault,” which is often a misdemeanor charge. This refers to incidents where one person attacks another without a weapon and the victim doesn’t suffer any obvious severe injuries. The study found that there were 7,631 simple assault crimes reported in West Virginia in 2021.
Researchers say “destruction, damage and vandalism of property” comes in on the list as the fourth most common crime reported in West Virginia with 5,807 incidents reported in 2021. This category includes a set of crimes because while vandalism involves destroying property, researchers say it is not always considered the same crime as destruction or damage of property. Different states also have different definitions and charges for these crimes, according to Jorge Vela Law.
Rounding out the top five of the Mountain State’s most common crimes is shoplifting. The study found that a total of 4,173 instances of shoplifting were reported throughout West Virginia in 2021. Researchers say instances of internal concealment and manipulating merchandise with the intention of stealing it or trying to pay less for it.
Despite these crimes toping the list, another recent study from Vivint found that West Virginia is actually one of the top 10 states for safest homes in the country. The state ranked at ninth place on the list. Vivint’s study also found that, according to FBI data, West Virginia has a property crime rate of 1,399 per 100,000 residents.