With the St. Louis murder rate seemingly under control, the mayor and police chief of St. Louis are asking the public to focus on auto theft. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that the city is on pace for a 41-year low in homicide, but auto theft is up 30 percent in the city and 32 percent in suburban St. Louis County.
The son of Mayor Francis Slay’s family had his s Jeep Cherokee stolen last week from in front of the mayor’s house. Police recovered it later that night. “It doesn’t feel real good,” Slay said. “You can understand the irritation people feel when something like that happens. It’s a hassle.”
Slay and Police Chief Joe Mokwa yesterday called for placing stickers on a car’s windshield and rear window that invites police to stop the vehicle if it is on the road between 1 and 5 a.m. (Slay said the program was in the works when his car was stolen.) Nashville, Tn., police have had a similar program for a decade, but it has not led to a dramatic decrease in thefts, said Don Aaron of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. “A positive aspect of the program was that it was very rare for a vehicle displaying one of the stickers to be stolen,” he said.
Slay said a low prosecution rate emboldens thieves. Prosecutors issue charges on just one-fifth of tampering and stealing arrests, primarily because victims tend not to follow through with pressing charges.
The city plans to spend $48,200 to increase the Police Department’s fleet of “bait cars” to four from one. The cars use satellite positioning, allowing police to track their movements, shut them off, and lock the doors–trapping the would-be thief by remote control.