The St. Louis Police Department today announced its plan to reduce the number of car break-ins ("coutings") that have been going on wherever large numbers of cars are parked for what will likely be a while. (Think game, movie, shopping, dinner.)
The challenges in gaining ground against this particularly annoying sort of property crime, say the police, are two-fold: people who make break-ins more attractive by leaving valuables (and not-so-valuables) in plain sight and the relative lack of deterrence in the light state punishments for this crime.
So, to address the first challenge, the police will mount a low-cost, high-profile public education campaign to remind motorists to park "smart" and not leave anything in sight in their cars. At the center of the campaign will be prominently displayed posters and billboards designed to catch their eye and change their habits. And the chief says that thieves should consider that he will also be deploying decoy cars and video cameras in some locations.
The second challenge is tougher. Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce says that first-time car clouters are rarely punished in the sometimes slow-moving and always very busy state court system. So, I hope to persuade the Board of Aldermen to make car clouting a municipal offense that will let police bring criminals to the city courts where punishment for this offense might be stronger and faster.