Crime up in St. John but progress made

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001


LAPLACE – Crime in St. John the Baptist Parish is down 19 percent overall in the first quarter of 2001, and the decrease has been attributed to new deputies and more patrols. According to St. John Sheriff Wayne L. Jones, many documented offenses in 2000 involved crimes against property because of booming real estate and the large amount of residential property going up. The properties, which are 95 percent completed and empty at night, are being robbed of items such as dishwashers, ceiling fans, doors and appliances. Jones recently hired four certified officers and replaced a couple of retired officers. He has two officers in the police academy and plans to have eight new officers in all this year, a promise he made to St. John Parish when crime increased in 2000. After enjoying four years of crime reduction beginning with Jones’ election to office, the parish experienced a 14 percent increase in 2000. Though crime did increase in 2000, Jones said more of those who committed crimes went to jail and served time. The increase was attributed to population growth, and the sheriff’s office immediately saw the need to add patrol officers to the department. The first quarter of 2001, which began in January and ended at the close of March, saw a 50 percent decrease in burglary and a 29 percent decrease in theft. In the first quarter of 2000 the parish already had 101 burglaries, but this year there were only 51. Last year’s first quarter brought 254 thefts, and this year there were 181. Robbery and assault numbers in the first quarter of 2001 have remained close to first quarter 2000 statistics. No rapes have been reported during the first quarter this year, and motor vehicle theft has gone up about 33 percent. At the beginning of January one homicide occurred, causing a 100 percent increase this year as compared to last year’s first quarter when there were no homicides. The murder was a domestic crime, and the suspect has been charged and arrested. The increase in deputies comes from a quarter-cent tax St. John Parish residents approved. With the money Jones also raised starting salaries from $1,350 to $1,500 a month to keep deputies in the parish and avoid as many turnovers as possible. The St. John Sheriff’s Office has a 90 percent solvability rate, according to Jones. With the addition of officers and the increase in pay, the sheriff’s office expects to see more and more of a decrease in crime.