Tips to help you recognize and prevent gang involvement in your neighborhood.

Gangs and gang activity don’t just pop up in a neighborhood overnight. There are numerous signs you should be aware of so you can help identify gang activity and prevent street gang crimes in your neighborhood.

What is a gang?

Generally speaking, a gang is a group of three or typically more people who may or may not claim control over a certain territory in its community and engage, either individually or collectively, in illegal activities.

There are many types of gangs throughout the United States, but street gangs are the most common type of gang in Richmond.

What is a street gang?

According to the National Gang Center, the term “street gang” carries two specific meanings. First, it suggests a common feature of gangs: They commonly have a street presence. Street socialization is a key feature of adolescent gangs. Second, “street gang” refers to “street crimes,” which are typically serious and violent crimes like assaults, drive-by shootings, robberies, homicides, etc. that occur on the streets.

What are the known gangs in Richmond?

Street gangs typically adopt names that are related to their respective neighborhoods (street names, housing projects, regional names, etc.) This is largely the case in Richmond, where local law enforcement has identified more than 20 active local street gangs, including the following:

Active Gangs 2014-2017

  • Broad Rock Boys
  • Young guns
  • 13th Gang
  • Sureno 13
  • MS-13
  • Double II Bloods
  • Nine Trey Bloods
  • Sex Money Murder Blood
  • 400
  • Rollin 30 Crips
  • Gangster Disciples
  • Hells Angels
  • Mongols
  • Outkast
  • Pagans
  • Wheels of Soul
  • Black Disciples
  • 2 Times
  • F@#$ the Opps (FTO)
  • OTF (Only the Family)
  • Los Lobos
  • Dolow Crips
  • 9 Boyz

Older Gangs 2005-2014

  • 2 UP
  • Baywood Souljas
  • Blackwell Bottom Boys
  • Bloods
  • Boulevard Boys
  • Brick Yard Block
  • Broadrock Boys
  • Chippenham Money-making Boys
  • Crips
  • Fulton Hill
  • Gangster Disciples
  • Lakeview and Claiborne (LVC)
  • Latin Kings
  • Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS 13)
  • Meadow bridge Boys
  • Mosby Court Posse (MCP)
  • Outcast Mc
  • Rainbow City Coalition (RBC)
  • Surenos 13 (Sur 13)
  • Vatos Locos
  • Ville Boys

How can I learn more about gangs in my area?

If you suspect or witness gang activity in your community, it is important to know exactly what you are dealing with. You can learn more about the gang situation in your area by speaking with your local police department, as well as juvenile officers or probation/parole officers. You can also contact Richmond’s Project Safe Neighborhoods Community Outreach Coordinators.

What are some of the early warning signs that my child may be involved with a gang?

  • They admit to hanging out with known troublemakers or kids in gangs
  • They show an unusual interest in one or two particular colors of clothing or a specific logo
  • They switch to dark or all black clothing when they go out at night
  • They use peculiar hand signals when communicating with friends
  • They prefer to be called by a new nickname
  • They watch or appear in homemade online rap videos from local rappers
  • They have graffiti in their bedroom on items such as books, posters, and bedroom walls
  • They have/lie about unexplained injuries (fighting-related bruises, scrapes/cuts to knuckles, etc.)
  • They have unexplained cash or new clothes/jewelry beyond what you know they can afford
  • They carry a weapon
  • They have been in trouble with the police
  • They show negative changes in behavior, such as:
    • Sudden sense of bravery
    • Withdrawing from family
    • Sudden negative attitude about normal activities
    • Skipping school or afterschool activities
    • Staying out late without a reason
    • An unusual desire for privacy
    • Exhibiting signs of drug use
    • Breaking rules consistently
    • Speaking in gang-style slang

Signs of gang activity in your neighborhood:

  • Clustering of groups of youth in public places (corner stores, etc.) wearing or displaying a particular color
  • Increased reports of fights and arguments on school property
  • Increased sightings of graffiti
  • Violent incidents reported in your neighborhood
  • Increased reports of car break-ins and theft in your neighborhood

How to prevent gang activity in your neighborhood:

  • If you know something, say something – There are many ways to report suspected gang activity, and the police need your help. Learn more about anonymous tip lines in Richmond.
  • Work with local law enforcement – If you identify gang activity happening in your neighborhood, the police want to know. Contact Richmond Police Department and let them know your concerns. Your information, which can be kept confidential, and cooperation helps them focus their anti-gang efforts and may prevent others in your community from becoming victims of senseless gang violence.
  • Join forces with your neighbors – Consider joining a Neighborhood Watch group in your area. If one does not exist in your neighborhood, consider working with your neighbors to start your own Neighborhood Watch group. To get started, visit the National Neighborhood Watch Institute online and check out the National Crime Prevention Council’s tips for how to organize a Neighborhood Watch program.
  • Introduce your child to Virginia Rules – If your child doesn’t know the laws in Virginia, how can they know if they are breaking the law or not? Virginia Rules is an educational program designed for middle and high school students that helps parents and students understand the law as it applies to teens in their everyday lives. When you teach your child about Virginia laws, you can help them develop skills needed to make good decisions, to avoid breaking laws, and to become active citizens of their schools and communities. In addition to teaching about the laws in Virginia, Virginia Rules also offers information on gang activity as it relates to teens.
  • Get involved as a parent – The biggest way you can prevent and reduce gang involvement starts at home. The more involved you are as a positive parent and role model, the less likely your child will seek acceptance from street gangs. Here are some ways you can support your child at home:
    • Get involved in your child’s school activities
    • Be a positive role model and set a good example
    • Get to know your child’s friends and their families
    • Encourage good study habits
    • Teach your child how to cope with peer pressure
    • Help your child develop good conflict resolution skills
    • Encourage your child to participate in positive after-school activities
    • Get involved in community activities as a family
  • Talk with your child about the dangers of gangs – Let your child know the truth about street gangs. Make sure they know that you do not want to see them hurt or arrested. Explain to your child that they SHOULD NOT:
    • Hang out with gang members
    • Go to parties or social events sponsored by gangs
    • Use gang-related hand signs, symbols, or language
    • Wear gang-related clothing or colors