Economic Woes Help Push St. Louis Violence Rate Higher


St. Louis is on pace to surpass the 2005 crime totals that helped the city clinch the unofficial “most dangerous city” title, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reports of violent crime were up 10.3 percent in the first half of this year. Rapes were up 66 percent and on pace to finish 2006 at 358. That would be more than four times the city’s total in 2003. The increase occurred after Post-Dispatch stories in 2005 disclosed that city police had discounted rape by recording some victims’ complaints in informal memos that went uncounted in crime statistics, and by classifying others as different crimes.

Local increases in reports of burglaries and robberies suggest that St. Louis could blame some of its problems on tough economic times, said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Rosenfeld theorized that greater economic need was driving more people to act on an underlying impulse to commit robbery. Robbery is “the crime one pulls when one doesn’t have the time or doesn’t want to engage in the effort to commit different kinds of property crime,” he said. “Like no other crime, they respond to relatively short-run changes in economic conditions.” For next year, St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa said police will focus on six neighborhoods and will identify and track repeat offenders who are most likely to cause trouble. Police will experiment with using surveillance cameras atop buildings.


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