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SHERIFF SAYS BURGLARY RISE DUE TO BETTER REPORTING

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 26, 1998

LAPLACE – Burglary rates in St. John the Baptist Parish apparently took aquantum leap forward but Sheriff Wayne L. Jones says better reportingaccounts for some of the change.

Nevertheless, he says he will put more police in the subdivisions, including unmarked police units, in an attempt to curtail any further worsening of the burglary statistics.

According to recently-released figures, burglary in St. John Parish rosefrom a total of 209 incidents in 1996 to 694 in 1997. Also, the burglaryrate rose from 39 incidents in the first half of 1996 to 377 incidents in the first half of 1997.

Jones says the jump in the burglary totals results from the way such statistics are kept. This year, he adds, burglaries are included with autoburglaries and attempted burglaries in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics.

In most other categories, Jones continues, St. John Parish hasimprovements, and there are certain crimes about which police can only advise people on how to avoid becoming a crime statistic.

Total number of homicides in the parish for 1997 was 9, a slight increase from 1996’s total of 8, but reflecting the serial murders charged to Daniel Blank, who awaits trial for three 1997 instances in St. John Parish. Rapedecreased from 4 in 1996 to 2 in 1997. Both 1997 rapes were reported inJuly, according to the figures released.

Robberies went from 68 in 1996 to 19 in 1997, perhaps reflecting the increased police presence Jones insists has made a positive difference in most crime statistics.

Auto theft took an alarming jump from 43 in 1996 to 78 in 1997. However,Jones says recent arrests in the River Forest Subdivision area will make a positive impact on those numbers and 1998 should not be a continuation of that trend.

In other figures, theft dropped from 1,411 incidents in 1996 to 1,153 in 1997 and assaults went from 392 incidents in 1996 to 376 in 1997.

Examining 1997 crime statistics, the greatest number of robberies were reported in May with 6 instances. In 1996, the greatest number ofrobberies were reported in January with 20 instances.

The greatest number of burglaries during 1997 were reported in May with 85 instances, perhaps reflecting increased juvenile criminal activity at the end of the school term.

The greatest number of auto thefts during 1997 were reported in December with 22 instances, followed by November with 19 instances, both holiday months where people are shopping more and some are paying less attention to their vehicle security.

Altogether, total crime incidents in St. John Parish rose from 2,135 in1996 to 2,331 in 1997.

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