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St. Charles Parish shows increase in crime numbers since COVID-19 pandemic

LULING — The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office reports crime to the F.B.I. though the Uniform Crime Reporting System (U.C.R.). This system tracks crime through seven categories consisting of murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and auto theft.

Crime in the seven U.C.R. categories continued to fall during the first quarter of 2020, following a record low in 2019.  However, primarily due to the numbers of assaults and thefts, St. Charles Parish experienced an increase in crime numbers as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold. Over 60 of the thefts reported occurred at the Walmart in Boutte.

Throughout the first quarter of 2020 (January through March), St. Charles Parish experienced a 6.1 percent decrease in crime when compared to the same period of 2019. During the second quarter of 2020 (April through June), crime numbers began to rise due to significant increases in assaults and thefts.  Assaults during the second  quarter rose from 143 to 182 (27 percent increase).  Thefts rose from 132 to 208 during the second quarter as well – an increase of 57 percent.  The other five categories of crime had minimal or no increases in numbers during the second quarter. Murder, robbery, burglary, and auto theft rates actually fell during the second quarter of 2020.  Overall, crime increased 11 percent in the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. Note*  the third quarter will reflect the two homicides that occurred in July.

Sheriff Greg Champagne released the following statement:

“The increase in assaults seem to be related to domestic violence, exacerbated by the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ and unemployment, with families being confined in close quarters for such an extended period.  This continues be a problem and deputies are constantly responding to domestic violence calls and neighborhood disputes. While many young people are law abiding, this has been an extended summer, which in turn leads to kids getting bored and it is not unusual for thefts to rise during summer months. The courts and my office have also been lenient with the use of bail releases and summonses, due to the COVID-19  threat with the incarcerated.  As a result, many chronic offenders are able to stay out of jail, thus, crimes such as theft go up.

“I applaud our deputies, detectives and correctional officers for the work they have done during this pandemic, putting themselves at risk, yet continuing to serve under extraordinary pressures, which we are all too familiar with.We have worked very hard over many years to continually reduce crime in St. Charles Parish.  In 2019, we observed the lowest documented crime records in the history of St. Charles Parish.  With this in mind, it only takes a few additional crimes to indicate an upward trend.  This year has presented several new challenges for deputies, as well as the citizens of St. Charles Parish.  Rest assured, the members of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to providing the highest quality of service to our citizens.”

The individual U.C.R. statistics from January to June of 2019, compared to 2020, are as follows:

Months 2019 2020
January 102 101
February 134 134
March 124 103
April 96 114
May 105 155
June 122 162
Total 683 769