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Crime Down Overall In St. Louis, But Homicides Rise

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with quotes from Chief Sam Dotson and 2013 neighborhood data.

Despite an increase in the number of homicides, crime was down more than 5 percent overall in the city of St. Louis last year.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released its final numbers for 2013 today. Violent crimes — those committed against individuals— were down by more than 10 percent, while property crimes dropped more than 4 percent.

Chief Sam Dotson credited the declines to the department’s practice of targeting high-crime areas with additional police as needed. As for the homicides, he urged citizens to keep the seven additional murders in context.

“The five- year number is 136 homicides a year. We’re below that,” Dotson said. “I’m not minimizing it at all. I’m very concerned about crime, I’m very concerned about homicides. But overall, since 2006, crime in the city of St. Louis is almost 50 percent less.”

In 2014, Dotson said, the department will focus on aggravated assaults with guns. There were more than 1,600 shootings in the city last year.

“We asked the court to help us with an armed offender docket, but I think what we got was window-dressing,” he said. “We’re working with probation and parole, the circuit attorney, or neighborhood partners, our social service partners, really to get at some of the systemic issues. But the prevalence of guns, not just in our city but in the country, leads to this problem.”

Dotson says the consolidation of police districts that will take effect on Jan. 27 will give commanders the resources they need to better fight crime. He says the department will also be unveiling new strategies to tackle larcenies in Forest Park and downtown – two areas popular with residents, tourists, and thieves.  

Here's a breakdown of the violent crime rates: 

  • Homicide: Up 6.2 percent (113 in 2012, 120 in 2013)
  • Forcible rapes: Up 67.3 percent (199 in 2012, 333 in 2013) **
  • Robberies: Down 18 percent (1,778 in 2012, 1,458 in 2013)
  • Aggravated assaults: Down 11.3 percent (3,751 in 2012, 3,167 in 2013)

** In January 2013, the FBI broadened the definition of forcible rape to include new offenses and to take into account victims of all ages and genders. The increase in reported rapes was expected.
Read how the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines the crimes counted by the city.

Here's a breakdown of crimes against property:

  • Burglaries: Down 13.7 percent (4,986 in 2012, 4,305 in 2013)
  • Larcenies: Down 0.5 percent (13,520 in 2012, 13,452 in 2013)
  • Vehicle thefts: Down 4.6 percent (3,489 in 2012, 3,330 in 2013)
  • Arsons: Down 10.6 percent (198 in 2012, 177 in 2013)

Neighborhood crime statistics show a heavy concentration of larcenies in the Downtown, Downtown West, Central West End and Tower Grove South neighborhoods. There were 19 murders in the month of December — the deadliest month in the city in 2013.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.