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Crime drops in parts of St. Louis County

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis, MO – Serious crime in parts of St. Louis County is down in the first six months of 2009, compared to the same period last year.

Index crimes - murder, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson - were down 19 percent overall in that period. The number of burglaries - or breaking and entering - dropped 35 percent, one of the sharpest decreases.

"To give you an idea of what 35 percent, this time last year, we had had over 1300 burglaries reported to us. This year we've had 864," said county police chief Tim Fitch.

The chief attributed the drop in crime to special enforcement units in North County, which went after minor criminal acts like curfew violations. A fully-staffed police force and a full county jail also helped, he said.

"If offenders, especially repeat offenders, are being incarcerated, they're not out on the street. They're not out there burglarizing our homes, or stealing things from the local Kohl's," Fitch said. "They're in jail."

The county police only report index crime numbers for the unincorporated areas of the county and for the 16 municipalities that have police service contracts with the department. But Fitch said the territory accounts for nearly half of the county's population.