Summer is upon us, and neighborhoods are more susceptible to criminal activities, especially during these warm-weather nights. Keep in mind the time-honored saying: An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
Last week, Ladue Police Chief Rich Wooten has been meeting with residents of Willow Hill, Berkeley Lane, Lorenzo Lane and Loren Woods.
The focus of these meetings was to inform and focus residents on protecting their personal property left in their vehicles and homeowners in La Hacienda to stem crimes against residents and to help alert these homeowners to methods for protecting their homes and their personal possessions.
If the chief had his druthers, then all residents would be sure to lock their homes and vehicles and keep valuable items stored out of sight.
Wooten is operating on the premesis that thefts from unlocked vehicles is on the rise throughout St. Louis, in major part because of the increased usage of illegal drugs including Heroine.
“These criminals committing thefts from vehiicles have expensive drug habits to maintain. They will steal items in the middle of the night, and they will be sold by the next day,” he said. It happens just that quickly.
All too often, valuables such as laptop computers, I-pods, cell phones, wrist watches and the like are pilfered from unlocked vehicles. Too often, homeowners are leaving garage, back and front doors, patio doors and other entry points unlocked.
The subdivisions aforementioned are near quick exit points including quick access to Ladue and Clayton roads, leading to highways I-64/40 and I-170. Criminals can grab valuables and vanish on exit ways in a matter of moments. These are targeted because of their population density (more homes in a smaller homes) and design.
“Often, these individuals are on foot. They are in constant contact with their escape partners with their cell phones. They will come up Delmar and find homes through back yards and down side streets. They often hit homes between midnight and 3 a.m. They wear dark clothes; hoodies, they can be hard to detect,” said the chief.
If a criminal thinks a police patrol car is coming, they will hide in the shadows, behind trees and bushes and around the corner of houses. Once the patrol car passes by, they figure they are no longer in danger of being found. “At night you can hear a car on the streets a long distance away,” said Wooten.
Wooten points to charts and graphs, indicicating crimes against persons and residents is actually on the decline in Ladue.
Larcerny and home burglaries have steadily declined between 2007 and 2011. For instance, between 2007-2011, there were 500 larcenies (crimes against property); less almost 700 between 2002 and 2006 and more than 700 from 1997 to 2001.
Other crimes in Ladue such as rape, robbery, assaults, vehicle theft and arson are almost non-existent. The shift has gone from businesses more to the neighborhoods.
The chiefs goals is to alert homeowners why crimes happen, define how to deal with these crimes and make sure nothing gets worse.
Wooten says criminal activity is just a sign of the times. Back in the 1940s, when homes were built on Willow Hill, Berkeley Lane, in La Hacienda and other streets and subdivisions, most had two car attached garages.
Today, garages are filled with all kinds of stored items, and often homeowners will have three and four cars in driveways or on the streets, parked overnight. Unlocked or with items visible, they beome easy targets for hit and run thieves.
Every resident of Ladue has a responsibility to protect his or her property and their lives. “If you hear something outside your home or in your back yard, do not confront that individual. Rather, call 911 and let the professionals take care of all of that,” said Chief Wooten. "Property can be replaced, lives cannot," said the chief.
What homeowners should do:
- Have your subdidivision trustees contact the police department with any questions or issues.
- Call Chief Wooten at 314-993-4214.