Though crime overall continues to drop in the city of St. Louis, the city’s police department remains concerned about an ongoing spike in car break-ins .
Larcenies are up 2 percent across the city compared to last year, driven by a 7.5 percent jump in car break-ins across the same period.
Alarmingly, said police chief Sam Dotson, many of the thieves are looking specifically for guns. More than 100 have been stolen from parked cars so far this year.
"When we see many cars that are broken into in a row, and nothing's taken, we believe that they're looking for guns," he said.
He says the criminals know that Missouri's concealed-carry law does not allow a permit holder to bring his or her weapon to a sporting event with more than 5,000 people.
"That immediately disqualifies the football game, that immediately disqualifies the baseball game, so don't even bring your gun downtown," he said. "I never want a legal gun to become an illegal gun."
Dotson says the deployment of special operations officers to the areas where larcenies are concentrated is paying off, but that more victims need to cooperate to make arrests stick.
He says he's also concerned that the individuals committing the crime are showing a greater willingness to use weapons, pointing to an incident Wednesday night when a car owner was fired upon when he interrupted a break-in.
Also today, the department celebrated its earning a rare distinction among departments in the United States.
It's now one of just 12 departments whose communications center, training academy and law enforcement operations are simultaneously meeting exacting law enforcement standards set by the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.
Mayor Francis Slay called the achievement something that should not be taken lightly.
"It’s something that we should not only feel good about, but also it should be a challenge for the future to maintain a high level of competence and a high level of service to the people of St. Louis," he said.
The prestigious award comes about a week before the department officially comes under local control.
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