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Traffic stops, robberies are on rise in Sikeston

Friday, February 8, 2008

(Photo)
Capt. John Martin of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety reviews crime statistics for 2007
(Photo by Scott Welton, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Crime statistics for Sikeston last year show more traffic stops and robberies on the streets than the previous year.

"Overall, 2007 wasn't a lot different than 2006 other than we made a concerted effort to increase traffic enforcement over 2006," said Capt. John Martin of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. "That was our major push last year."

Martin said this traffic enforcement push was an effort made with the goal of reducing the number of accidents, injuries and property damage. "We were trying to be proactive instead of reactive," he said.

In 2007, DPS made 4,402 vehicle stops, up from 3,200 in 2006.

The number of citations, however, did not see a similar increase as there were 2,567 citations written last year as compared with the 2,315 in '06. "So not really a big difference," Martin said. "Probably warnings have been increased."

He said as the goal was to change driving habits. Officers at their discretion could determine if a warning would accomplish that on a particular vehicle stop as well as a citation would have.

Statistics indicate DPS's goal was achieved as there was a decrease in traffic accidents: 1,138 in 2007, down from 1,213 in 2006.

As far as crimes go, the most significant change in 2007 from the previous year was in the number of robberies: 45 in '07, up from 29 in '06.

"A lot of those were street crimes, not commercial," Martin said. "That was our big increase: people being robbed while walking down the street."

This was described as "a large increase," by Martin. "As to why, I don't know."

Martin later added: "A significant percentage of armed robberies on the street are probably narcotics related."

He explained victims in many cases are attempting to purchase drugs and are robbed instead or the suspects are looking for quick cash to purchase drugs so they rob someone.

The number of stolen vehicles dropped slightly to 54 last year from the 62 stolen in 2006.

The number of burglaries, which includes both residential and commercial burglaries, also dropped in 2007 with 170 in '07 and 188 in 2006. Larcenies were up at 634 from 553 in 2006.

The total value of stolen property in 2007 was $1,061,165. In 2006, that number was $1,010,364.

This is not a significant change as $50,000 could be a single motor vehicle, Martin said.

There were two homicides in Sikeston during 2007, down from five in 2006. "I'm happy to see our homicide rate go down," Martin said.

The number of rapes reported in the city stayed the same: five for both 2006 and 2007.

The number of assaults increased a bit with 1,515 in 2007 up from 1,357 this previous year.

"Of those, a total of 542 were domestic violence calls," Martin said. There were 341 of those in 2006, "so domestic violence is on the increase," he said.

Disturbances which were not assaults totaled 1,237 last year, down from 1,400 in 2006.

There were also a couple more assaults on public safety officers -- 14 in 2007, up from nine in 2006. "They have all been cleared with arrests," Martin noted.

Jamming out and partying on the road also increased.

Loud music complaints were up to 340 in 2007 from 188 in 2006 and 79 citations written in '07 for driving while intoxicated, up from 32 in 2007.

Sikeston drug investigators were assigned 757 cases in 2007 and cleared 637 with 57 search warrants issued during the year.

In 2007, drug investigations resulted in the seizure of 21.2 pounds of marijuana, a half pound of cocaine power and crack, 16.2 grams of methamphetamine, 13 guns and $6,798.

During Operation Grinch alone, 90 drug arrests were made, Martin noted.

The Social Security investigator also had a good year, working over 50 cases of Social Security fraud which saved $2,317,667 that would have been paid out in fraudulent claims. "He broke the St. Louis record in the third quarter of 2007," Martin said.

The two full-time Public Housing officers, which started patrolling public housing areas in cars, on bicycles and on foot beginning Aug. 1, filed 662 reports.

Arsons were at 10 in 2007 up from seven in 2006. Mental transports were up to 134 last year from the 96 in 2006.

In 2007, there were 447 more calls for service than 2006 with a total of 21,975 last year.

"That's pretty average," Martin said. "It will vary from year to year. As long as there are no major fluctuations, that's normal."

The total number of arrests in 2007, which was 2,419, is only up 28 over the 2,391 in 2006.

As a final note, Mayor Mike Marshall's call for cracking down on littering seems to be having an effect already.

There were five calls for littering last year and nine calls the year before that resulted in two charges in 2007 and three in 2006.

While the year is still young, "we've already surpassed that," Martin said.

Statewide crime statistics for 2007:

Homicides: 318
Negligent manslaughter:14
Rapes:1,283
Attempted rapes:109
Robberies:5,846
Burglaries:38,143
Stolen vehicles:19,091
Arsons:1,698
Larcenies:139,535

Statewide statistics provided by the Sikeston Department of Public Safety