Hemelt: Stats report shows drop in St. John Parish crimes

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

The scene, as it was explained to me, sounds pretty scary.

A local motorist narrowly avoided serious injury, or possibly death, after three armed men robbed him Monday night before fleeing toward the woods.

The altercation took place at approximately 11 p.m. in the 100 block of Homewood Place in Reserve.

The victim told the St. John Sheriff’s Office that two men flagged him down and approached the driver’s side of his vehicle. As he slowed down, the men ordered him to pull over while pointing guns at him.

The victim told detectives he complied with the gunmen’s orders, adding a third man appeared on his vehicle’s passenger side and also pointed a gun.

“After he handed over his belongings, the victim said the subjects fled the scene on foot toward a wooded area along a canal bank behind Homewood,” a Sheriff’s Office release said. “Officers canvassed the area but were unable to locate the suspects.”

The only description released by police described the gunmen as black males wearing hoodies. Anyone with information on the armed robbery is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office TIPS line at 985-359-TIPS or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

Unfortunately, the scene described above could happen to any of us in the River Parishes.

A positive sign St. John the Baptist Parish residents can take note of is major crime reported from St. John in the first half of 2017 — January through June — decreased by 28 percent from the previous first half of the year. That’s courtesy of crime statistics collected by St. John Sheriff’s and shared publicly.

Overall, 485 crimes were reported in St. John Parish in the first half of 2017, compared to 673 in 2016. The second half of 2016 saw 608 reported for 1,281 total. 2017 is on pace for 970.

A problem area, no doubt, is homicides, where the first six months of 2017 produced three compared to none in the first half of 2016. The second half of 2016 produced six homicides, so the 12 months from July 2016 to June 2017 were especially violent.

There have been decreases recorded in five of the seven crime categories, including a major decrease in the number of burglaries (25) in the first half of 2017, compared to 67 in 2016. The second half of 2016 saw 26 reported burglaries, meaning this positive decrease has played out for the last 12 months.

Also falling in the first half of 2017 were the number of robberies — 18, compared with 23 over the same time period in 2016, which finished with 51 total.

There were 51 assaults reported in the first half of 2017, compared to 72 in the first half of 2016 and 141 for year. St. John is on pace for 102 assaults this year.

There were 364 larceny-thefts reported through June 2017, compared to 479 in the first half of 2016 and 925 for the full year.

Motor vehicle thefts for the beginning of 2017 stand at 22, compared to 30 over the same period in 2016 and 42 for the year.

The number of forcible rape cases remains unchanged, police said, with two reported in the first half of 2017 and two in the first half of 2016.

Of course, the best way to avoid becoming a victim of crime is to make sure the crime never occurs in the first place. That’s much easier said than accomplished and is only the result of a shared understanding between community and police.

Criminals often repeat their crimes, so the quicker community members can alert law enforcement to the three men referenced in the beginning of this column, the better chance another victim doesn’t suffer at their hands.

It’s on law enforcement to develop the trust and relationships necessary for community members to feel safe and appreciated in performing such tasks. If we continue to build on those relationships, our crime numbers will continue to decrease.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.