Surge in Auto Break-Ins Bumping up Crime Rate in Mississippi City

November 6, 2015

Hundreds of vehicle break-ins are a big part of the reason that major crimes are up in Hattiesburg.

There were 376 vehicle break-ins during the first nine months of this year, compared to 114 a year ago, The Hattiesburg American reported.

“And in 85 percent to 90 percent, those cars were not locked with valuables in them,” Lt. Detective Branden McLemore said during a news conference. “I’m not sure what to do about that except to ask people to be more diligent and lock their vehicles.”

Home burglaries also were up, but only by 15, from 186 to 201. Aggravated assaults rose from 15 in 2014 to 24 this year.

McLemore said homicides were down 56 percent, from 9 at this point last year to four through this September. Grand larcenies fell from 130 to 104 and auto thefts from 42 in 2014 to 37 so far this year.

“Whether the numbers go up or down, it is what it is,” he said. “Crime is a constant, and then it’s what we can do to combat it. These (numbers) help us to decide where best to put our resources.”

The department has 98 officers, about 21 percent below a full force of 125.

“We’re trying to raise our numbers up,” said Lt. Jon Traxler, a department spokesman.

“But to say there is a perfect number to combat a specific of amount of crime, there’s not,” he said. “We would love to have a police officer on every corner of every block on every street in the City of Hattiesburg. Unfortunately, we cannot, so we have to take what we have and go in and target certain areas.”

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