Crime down in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 11, 2002


HAHNVILLE – Normally, quarterly crime statistics do not excite St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg C. Champagne, but recently he said, “I’m very excited about it.”

Crime in St. Charles Parish took a 4.5 percent drop in 2001 below the previous year, making it the lowest number of reported crimes in his five years in office.

He cited elements such as the use of the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, keeping offenders behind bars longer and off the streets, as making a dent in repeat offenders.

“This supports the effectiveness of enforcement and prevention initiatives implemented are having a positive impact on our parish,” Champagne added.

Total crimes for 2001 listed 2,621 incidents in seven crime categories in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, compared to 2,745 in 2000, 2,737 in 1999, 2,753 in 1998 and 2,768 in 1997.

Success stories can be reported in the trends, especially theft and auto theft. Some areas, however, were up from the previous year, including rape, assault and robbery.

Champagne refuses to compare his own term’s statistics with prior administrations, saying he compares his own performance only with himself.

However, he acknowledges that this success does have its price. “People think we have no crime and leave doors unlocked and there’s a break-in,” he said. Champagne urged people that to continue to enjoy a low crime rate, citizens must take certain common-sense measures, such as consistently locking residence and vehicle doors.

He pointed to a recent night of vehicle burglaries in Norco by way of example, and said, “In every case, the door has been left unlocked.”

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 the person.

There were two murders listed in the first half of 2001, compared to four during 2000, two in 1999, one in 1998 and three in 1997.

Rape totals for the parish reflect a cyclical increase for 2001, with 17 incidents reported. During 2000, the total was 11, with 13 in 1999, 22 in 1998 and nine in 1997.

Assaults took a decrease, following four years of increasing numbers of incidents. A total of 964 were reported for 2001, compared to 1,046 in 2000, 1,010 in 1999, 908 in 1998 and 813 in 1997.

Robberies increased, with 47 incidents reported in 2001, compared to 33 in 2000, 51 in 1999, 40 in 1998 and 61 in 1997.

Moving to property crimes, a total of 452 burglaries were reported in 2001. This compares to 475 incidents in 2000, 427 in 1999, 427 in 1998 and 483 in 1997.

Thefts have consistently dropped, year by year, since Champagne took office in mid-1996. A total of 1,014 incidents were reported for 2001, compared to 1,046 in 2000, 1,121 in 1999, 1,194 in 1998 and 1,238 in 1997.

Auto theft is less this year than last, and despite a spike in the totals in 2000, the trend continues downward. A total of 125 incidents were reported in 2001, compared to 130 in 2000, 113 in 1999, 160 in 1998 and 170 in 1997.

The sheriff’s office releases a quarterly Uniform Crime Report regarding seven index crimes. These crimes were compiled for the FBI, and the information is derived from crimes reported to the sheriff’s office.