Led by dramatic drops in rape and vehicle theft, St. Louis crime dropped nearly 16 percent in 2007, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The numbers released by the police department were a relief to city officials after a year in which crime rose in almost every category and the city remained tagged as one of the nation’s most dangerous. Reported rapes were was down 24 percent, to 255. That’s the fewest since 2004, when 171 were recorded. Vehicle theft dropped 27 percent, to 6,282. That’s the lowest since 1985.
Police Chief Joseph Mokwa credited anti-crime programs started in the last year like a 50-member Crime Suppression Unit, designed to identify crime hot spots and aggressively pursue chronic criminals. In 2007, it made 1,625 arrests, seized 257 weapons and recovered 359 stolen vehicles. Also cited was a new crime mapping unit that pinpoints problem areas and helps commanders identify crime patterns. The city has been sensitive to its image nationwide, largely because a publication has ranked St. Louis among the nation’s most dangerous cities for several years. The rankings have been discounted by the FBI, academia and city officials because they rely on crime statistics that cities gather in different ways. Mokwa expects crime numbers to drop further, noting that police recently partnered with a think tank not identified by the Post-Dispatch that will help officials design new programs to combat crime in the worst neighborhoods.