St. Charles Parish crime hits 5-year low

Falls 16.5 percent in 2013

February 07, 2014 at 8:58 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish crime hits 5-year low
The number of reported crimes in St. Charles Parish dropped nearly 17 percent in 2013 when compared to 2012, according to a report compiled for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 2,203 crimes is the lowest total in St. Charles since 2008.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne credited the crime decrease to the aggressive and highly visible patrols of his deputies as well as his detectives’ ability to make good cases for the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s Office to prosecute.

Champagne said that the reduced crime has a lot to do with the right offenders being put in jail.

“The District Attorney’s Office has been focusing on repeat offenders,” he said. “Getting the right few people makes a difference.”

Much of the decrease in crime can be attributed to huge drops in assaults, thefts and burglaries. In 2012, there were 990 assaults compared with only 846 assaults in 2013. The number of burglaries also fell from 410 to 300 during the same period.

Champagne often warns residents about burglaries through his Facebook page and email alerts. While that sometimes leads residents to believe crime is increasing when it’s not, Champagne said the publicity helps in the long run by keeping residents vigilant.

For example, vehicle break-ins are considered burglaries and Champagne routinely alerts residents to such crimes. He also reminds people to remove valuables from their vehicles and lock their doors. The message seems to be working as there were 110 less burglaries last year.

“We still kind of harp on the fact that most burglaries are cars that are unlocked. I believe the vast majority are (locking their vehicles),” Champagne said. “We need everyone to get into the habit. The more thieves find inside vehicles, the more they will keep doing it.”

Thefts also decreased by 175, from 1,124 in 2012 to 949 in 2013. The 59 reported auto thefts in St. Charles in 2013 was the lowest number reported in more than 10 years. Champagne said that has a lot to do with better security systems that are now installed on vehicles.

Champagne also says surveillance cameras have been a deterrent to crime. While most businesses already utilize cameras, many homeowners are beginning to do the same.

“They are helpful. I wish everyone had a security camera,” Champagne said.

In fact, the Sheriff’s Office has a database of all residents that have security cameras that record the area surrounding their homes. When crimes occur in a particular neighborhood, Champagne said deputies use the database and view video surveillance that could possibly lead to an arrest.

While most crime totals fell, there were increases in the number of murders, rapes and robberies.

The number of robberies rose by one, from 32 to 33, while there were 11 rapes reported in 2013 compared to eight in 2012.

There were five murders in the parish last year, compared to two in 2012.

“Murder is the least preventable crime we have,” Champagne said. “Anybody that decides to commit murder doesn’t care about the consequences.”

Michael McCray, 18, was killed on Jan. 11, 2013 when multiple gunmen fired at least 17 shots into his vehicle while he was parked in St. Rose. Four people have been arrested in connection with McCray’s death.

Last March, Deaneal “Woodie” Rachal was found dead on the sidewalk in Summertown Drive in St. Rose from a single gunshot wound. Police are still searching for a suspect in the murder.

An apparent argument between two Luling men led to the parish’s third murder of 2013 when Darryl Davis allegedly shot and killed Quinn Coleman. Davis was arrested for the crime but has not gone to trial yet.

In November there were two more murders. Former Destrehan quarterback Ramal Ellis was found shot to death behind Fifth African Baptist Church in St. Rose, and police are still investigating the case and developing leads.

Stanley Robinson Jr., 20, was also arrested after a fight with his father turned fatal. Robinson allegedly shot his father twice, killing him.

Robinson Jr. is currently in jail and awaiting prosecution.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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