Instances of homicide, burglary fall; assaults jump

Published 11:55 pm Friday, February 13, 2015

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — For the second year in a row, overall crime rates in St. John the Baptist Parish are down.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office recently released the 2014 Uniform Crime Reports — compiled for and sent to the FBI — detailing data for seven index crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, auto theft and theft.

When compared to data on the same categories in 2013, overall crime in 2014 fell nearly 6 percent.

“I and members of the St. John Sheriff’s Office attended many home owner association meetings, PTO meetings and civic organization meetings to discuss crime prevention strategies and trends,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said of his office’s 2014 efforts. “I strongly encourage citizens to call and report criminal activity. I knew it would take a while for these strategies to work, but we are making progress.”

Overall, there was a 5.93 percent decrease in the crime categories, representing 1,636 total crimes in 2013 compared to 1,539 crimes in 2014.

Areas of decreased crime include homicide, burglary, theft and auto theft, and increased categories of crime for 2014 included rape, robbery and assaults.

Regarding the assaults, Tregre said “people fighting and not being able to resolve conflicts is an ongoing problem.”

Tregre said with assaults, “the majority of the cases are not witnessed by law enforcement and the parties file charges with the local Justice of the Peace.”

Still, Tregre said, “there are still too many kids being arrested for fighting due to social media conflicts or turf battles in St. John Parish.”

In 2014, there were eight homicides in the parish, compared to 14 in 2013.

Tregre said he believes better training for detectives, an increased number of night patrols and more interaction between officers and citizens led to the 42.86 decrease in homicides — the largest decreasing crime category this year.

“There have been 44 homicides in St. John Parish in the last six years,” Tregre said. “It’s sad but true that in a lot of the cases, it is family killing family or the victim and suspect knew each other.”

When speaking on engagement of officers and citizens, Tregre points out a 38 percent increase in the number of calls received (33,017 in 2013 compared to 45,444 in 2014) indicates residents are better engaged.

“The citizens want us to be successful,” Tregre said. “They want a safe community. Citizens calling and reporting crimes, no matter how big or small, sends a message to criminals that people are calling to help us get them off the street.”

Burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft also saw decreased instances in 2014 when compared to 2013, which is on trend considering the categories also saw decreases in 2013 when compared to 2012 data.

There were 298 burglary crimes reported in 2014 compared to 346 in 2013, leading to a 13.87 percent decrease.

Still, Tregre said, there is much room for improvement.

“Vehicles being left unlocked is still an ongoing problem in St. John Parish,” Tregre said. “Last year the Sheriff’s Office arrested a group from St. John Parish and a group from Hammond entering unlocked vehicles and stealing valuables.”

Tregre said, combined, the people in the two groups of arrests entered almost 100 unlocked vehicles, and recently the Sheriff’s Office arrested two separate individuals committing burglaries in progress.

“Investigators feel these suspects and others are mainly responsible for multiple burglaries and home invasions in St. John Parish,” Tregre said.

In the category of theft, there was a 6.2 percent decrease in 2014 (where there were 965 reports) compared to 2013 (where there were 1,029 reports).

Summer bicycle thefts were a problem in 2014, Tregre said, and in response his office has made a bicycle registry program available to parents at

“Registration is a quick and easy way for St. John Parish residents to protect their bikes,” the website states. “It provides a record of your serial number in case your bike is ever lost or stolen and will help us get in touch with you with this information.”

A 8.96 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts was reported in 2014, where 61 reports were compared to the 67 reports in 2013.

“More units on the street creates an atmosphere of, ‘if you choose to commit a crime you are likely to be caught,’” Tregre said, adding smart key technology and crime cameras are “making a significant difference in the reduction of auto thefts.”

Increased categories of crime for 2014 included rape (25 percent), robbery (8.82 percent) and assaults (16.2 percent). The three categories also saw increases in 2013 when compared to 2012 data.

Rape reports rose from four in 2013 to five in 2014, but Tregre said a number of rape cases initially classified as rape were determined to be false through investigation.

“Some of the cases were later determined to be consensual,” Tregre said, adding in other cases the investigation was forwarded to the District Attorney’s office “to determine if a criminal proceeding or Grand Jury investigation will take place.”

Robbery reports rose from 34 in 2013 to 37 in 2014, and assault reports rose from 142 in 2013 to 165 in 2014.