Crime drops in parish during first half of year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001


HAHNVILLE – Crime in St. Charles Parish took a drop during the first half of 2001, but Sheriff Greg C. Champagne is not worked up about it. “We’re maintaining,” Champagne said. “So many people who have never been the victims of crime don’t think we have any crime.” The first half of 2001 listed 1,310 incidents in seven crime categories in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, with 594 during January-March and 716 incidents in April-June. This compares to the same period during 2000, where the first half total came to 1,493 incidents, reflecting a 13 percent drop. Looking further into Champagne’s tenure in office, the first half of 1999 cited 1,310 incidents, the first half of 1998 counted 1,361 incidents and the first half of 1997 reflected 1,408 incidents. “We will work to maintain these low numbers throughout the coming year,” Champagne said. “The opening of our new correctional center should help.” The new correctional center, located on Louisiana Highway 3127 near Killona, is due to begin admitting inmates some time in mid-August. The seven crime categories are divided between crimes against the person (murder, rape, assault) and crimes against property (robbery, theft, burglary and auto theft). Law enforcement efforts are more directed against the property crimes as being more preventable, Champagne explained. Little can be done by police to head off crimes against people. There were two murders listed in the first half of 2001, compared to one during the same time last year. The highest number of murders during the first half of the year during Champagne’s tenure took place in 1997, with three incidents. There were 11 rapes cited in the first half of 2001, up from eight in 2000. The most in one comparable period was in 1998, when 15 rapes were reported to law enforcement. A total of 492 assaults were reported during the first half of 2001, compared to 565 in 2000, which was the worst period for assaults during the Champagne administration. A total of 20 robberies were reported during the first half of 2001, compared to 20 in 2000. The worst first half-year for robberies was Champagne’s first, with 24 in 1998. Moving to property crimes, a total of 217 burglaries were reported in the first half of 2001. This compares to 241 incidents in 2000, which was the worst year in Champagne’s tenure. In the category of thefts, the first half of 2001 counted 507 incidents, which compares to 594 incidents in 2000. The worst of Champagne’s first-half statistics on thefts came in his first, with 660 incidents reported. Finally, in the category of auto thefts, a total of 60 incidents were reported for the first half of the year. In 2000, 64 were reported, both far below the worst year during Champagne’s tenure, with 91 incidents reported in 1998. “The longer period you have to compare, you can see trends,” Champagne said. He urged citizens to call suspicious activity and get involved in law enforcement. “You need citizens out there, but part of the problem is being complacent,” he said. Champagne said a constant frustration for him are thefts and auto thefts. “Thieves and burglars are serial offenders,” he said, while he urged residents to report, witness and assist law enforcement efforts. “I want a message to go out to the people that a lot of is in their hands.”