Overall crime in St. Charles Parish increased 25% during the 2020 calendar year.
The rise in offenses follows four years of dropping rates.
“During 2020, law enforcement throughout this nation faced many challenges and was even under attack as a result of both COVID-19 and the unrest across the nation,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said. “Many of these changes, in addition to drastic lifestyle changes to citizens throughout our country, have resulted in a rise in crime in communities. St. Charles Parish was no exception to this. There is no one factor that leads to a rise in crime, but rather a totality of circumstances.”
The total number of crimes in St. Charles Parish, according to Uniform Crime Reports, rose from 1316 in 2019 to 1648 in 2020 – a 25% increase. The F.B.I. tracks crime as reported by local law enforcement in seven categories – murder, rape, robbery, assault, theft, burglary and auto theft.
The number of reported rapes (four to six), assaults (527 to 666), burglaries (133 to 137), thefts (592 to 776) and auto thefts (37 to 49) each saw increases from 2019 to 2020.
The only crime category to see a decrease from 2019 to 2020 was robbery (19 to 10).
The number of murders stayed the same from 2019 to 2020 – there were four reported each year.
Crime rates in 2019 had set a new low mark for the 24 years of Champagne’s tenure as sheriff.
“The positive news is that the crime rate, after four years of substantial decreases, is still relatively low and roughly equivalent to the level of crime we experienced in 2016,” Champagne said. “2020 was still the fourth best, or lowest, crime year in the last 24 years. Unfortunately, after a series of great years with crime steadily decreasing, an average year will appear to be one in which crime substantially increased even though it is still a decent year in accordance with long-term trends.”
Champagne said the pandemic lockdowns played a large part in the two areas primarily responsible for the increase in overall crime – assaults and thefts.
“Domestic violence calls are very high and it seems theft has increased as well,” Champagne said. “Everyone was affected throughout 2020, and St. Charles Parish as a community has done its best to continue pushing through what is been a very difficult time worldwide. I think we are all hopeful that the light is at the end of the tunnel and we can all begin to return to a more normal lifestyle in 2021.”