Residents react positively to lower crime numbers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 27, 2002


HAHNVILLE – Crime in St. Charles Parish is down, according to statistics recently released by Sheriff Greg C. Champagne, and people are noticing the difference.

“I think it’s good,” Wanda Candies, of Candies & Co. hair stylists in Luling, said. “There’s a lot more deputies out now. We haven’t heard of a lot of crime lately.”

The mid-year review of parish crime statistics shows a 7.25 percent decrease in the incidence of major crimes during the first six months of 2002, compared to the same time last year. For the first half of 2002, there were a total of 1,215 incidents, compared to 1,310 in 2001, of major crimes, including murder, rape, assault, robbery, theft and auto theft.

Every crime category, except murder, dropped in the incidence total,where there were two in the first six months of each year; and the biggest drop came in assaults, with significant cuts noticed as well in auto thefts and burglaries.

When asked about the crime statistics, Pat Elfer, of St. Rose Tavern, said, “I feel good in general. I feel pretty safe.”

She did add a cautious note about foreign seamen slipping off the ships which make port in the parish, recalling a recent incident where four Pakastani seamen jumped ship at the ADM Growmark grain elevator in Destrehan, later found in Texas.

Elfer noticed the higher visibility of patrol deputies, on the major roads, as well as in neighborhoods. Her concerns are for increased traffic law enforcement, as well as littering laws.

In Ama, Veronica Hebert works as a convenience store clerk at odd hours, but noted, “I haven’t seen an increase (in crime).”

Convenience stores are often targeted by robbers in the mistaken notion there is plenty of ready money to be had. Such is not the case, though, as nearly all such stores have safes which are not able to be opened by the clerks, and only a small amount is kept in the cash register, Hebert said.

Similarly, in St. John the Baptist Parish, crime is plummeting.

A 6 percent decrease was recently reported by Sheriff Wayne L. Jones, with significant inroads being made in the incidence of motor vehicle theft and burglary. Those sort of numbers are attributable to increased vigilance by patrol deputies, whose presence is increasing and whose numbers will soon take another move forward.

An application was recently made to the U.S. Department of Justice for grant money to hire 12 deputies.

School Board president Gerald Keller said he had noticed increases in robberies around the parish. The incidence of robberies went from 20 to 25 in the past year for the first six months, while theft went from 348 to 366 incidents.

“It’s no longer just the drug traffic in the New Orleans area, it’s coming out here into the River Parishes,” Keller said. “That’s what worries me.”