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Extra patrols help police tackle burglaries

(via Flickr/MinimalistPhotography101.com)
Theft of material like copper tubing that can be sold for scrap pushed burglaries in St. Louis city up 11 percent from last year, though St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom says increased manpower has reversed an upward trend.

St. Louis police say stepped-up patrols and a change in patrol tactics have brought a recent upward trend in burglaries back down.

Overall, burglaries are up in the city 11 percent since last year, driven by a large jump in the theft of material that can be sold for scrap, like copper pipes.

But weekly data show that the numbers are going down since spiking in April. Chief Dan Isom is attributing that to increased manpower between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Officers also focused more patrol attention on alleys, since analysis showed that most of the burglars entered through rear and side doors.

"It's still too early to see if that's going to have a significant impact throughout the year, but we're always changing up strategies and looking for what works," Isom said.

He's also backing a proposed city ordinance that would, among other things, require scrap sellers to produce a photo ID and establish an electronic database of all material that's sold for scrap.

Also today, the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners:

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with the St. Louis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for upgrades to the department's firing range. The FBI will make $1.3 million in upgrades to the range in exchange for 90 training days. Chief Isom closed the range in July 2010 after discovering a backstop could no longer prevent bullets from leaving the facility. The upgrades will allow police to practice shooting at moving targets and use patrol rifles.
  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with Forest Park Forever, which will provide monthly funds to help maintain a mounted patrol presence in the park.  The mounted patrol had to leave Forest Park in August 2009 because of lead at its stables, but later returned under an agreement with the Parks department.
  • Approved changes to payments made to officers who are disabled on the job and cannot return to work. Such officers will receive 100 percent of their salary for about six months, with the possibility of a 90-day extension, to make sure they have income while their disability retirement claims are processed.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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