Crime statistics show huge drop in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – The 2004 FBI Uniform Crime Report proves Sheriff Greg Champagne, along with the entire St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, has taken an enormous bite out of crime since the Sheriff took office in 1996.

The report sends a strong and clear message, “If you want a safe place to live, choose St. Charles Parish.”

“These are our second-best crime stats in eight years. Our best was in 2003,” said Champagne. “Had we not seen an increase in theft and auto theft, we would have received better ratings than last year. This would have given us the best ratings since I took office.”

There were 38 additional crimes committed in the parish since 2003, creating a slight 1.6 percent increase. Parish crime rose from 2,369 incidents in 2003 to 2,407 incidents in 2004.

This is due to auto thefts and numerous other thefts. While the theft rates created a ripple in the statistics, the wave pales to an otherwise impeccable crime record.

Murder rates were reduced last year by 33.3 percent.

“We had only two murders in the parish,” said Champagne. “One was a domestic murder and the other consisted of one male teenager killing another male teen in a misunderstanding involving a 16-year-old girl.”

Rape drastically dropped 61.5 percent.

While 13 rapes occurred in 2003, only five took place in 2004.

“Every report made for rape is counted as a rape. Even though we later prove it never took place, we must still count it. Not all of these five cases turned out to be rape. Rape in St. Charles Parish is at a nine-year low,” said Champagne.

Robbery dropped 13.5 percent in the parish and burglary went down 9.9 percent. Burglary is the lowest it has been in eight years.

Assault decreased by 1.7 percent, producing a record low 737 incidents.

“Our violent murder crime – murder, rape, assault and robbery all went down. There is not a safer place to live than St. Charles Parish,” said Champagne.

The Sheriff said auto thefts have given his crime statistics a black eye.

Auto thefts increased from 101 incident s in 2003 to 166 in 2004.

“Forty-five of those auto thefts took place on east bank, in St. Rose, and 39 took place in the Boutte/Lulling area. We believe this is due to a transient population that resides in Kenner and Metairie,” said Champagne. “We also believe there is a connection between auto thefts and drug dealing.”

Champagne reported there was no profile or trend in the thefts. He maintained cars are stolen at random. Their make, model and year have no bearing on the thefts.

The Sheriff said it is important for residents to lock their vehicles and to park them in well-lighted areas. All valuables should be removed from vehicles and citizens should call the police immediately when they witness a suspicious person lurking about.

“Car alarms are a major deterrent to auto thefts. You are much better off with a car alarm,” said Champagne.

The Sheriff warned that cell phones left in a vehicle are a major attraction to potential auto burglary, remarking “Do not leave a cell phone in your car.”

Champagne believes the auto theft occurring in his parish will be short lived.

“My men have added patrols in areas hit by these thefts. They are on the ball and we are taking proactive measures. I think it is a temporary thing,” said Champagne.