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New legislation would make car break-ins a city crime as well

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(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
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Mayor Francis Slay (center) honors his father (left) at a ceremony at City Hall on Friday. The elder Francis Slay was a long time Democratic committeeman. The mayor's mother and some of his ten siblings are also pictured

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The alderwoman representing downtown St. Louis has proposed legislation that would add car break-ins to the list of city offenses.

The crime can already be prosecuted at the state level. The change introduced Friday by Ald. Phyllis Young would allow the city attorneys to file charges as well.

Crime was down overall in the city of St. Louis last year, but the number of car break-ins jumped almost 13 percent. Defendants prosecuted in the city would face 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Young said the change would make it clear that law enforcement is taking the crime seriously, which she says isn't often the case at the circuit attorney's level.

"They're not focusing on it. They've got drug cases and all those sorts of things that are sexier," she said.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce vigorously disputed Young's contention. Her office successfully prosecuted a large number of the car vandalism cases it received last year, and a lack of witness cooperation prevented them from filing charges in the rest. A municipal-level charge, she said, does not count as a prior conviction, making it harder to deter repeat offenders.

Also Friday, state and city-wide elected officials, including Mayor Francis Slay, gathered to honor the mayor's father.

Francis R. Slay recently retired as the Democratic committeeman in the 23rd Ward after 45 years in the position. He was also a state Representative and Senator, and the city's recorder of deeds from 1970 to 1978.

The mayor called his father a "people person," and said the most important lesson he learned from his namesake was to respect everyone.

"Everybody is important. Everybody matters. Everybody deserves recognition, and everybody deserves a smile, a handshake, a hello and good wishes," the mayor said.

first Ward Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe, who served on the city's central Democratic committee with the elder Slay, called his fellow committeeman an "earthquake" - because he was always out of sight, but making things move.

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