July 6, 2018 11:02:43 AM
Though violent crime numbers have decreased or leveled off in Starkville and Columbus, property crimes -- specifically burglaries -- have been steadily increasing.
"We do have a high rate of auto burglaries and home burglaries, and we're working on that," Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said. "We're trying to find out why that's happening."
In 2012, the number of auto, home, commercial and other burglaries reported to the Columbus Police Department was 438. Last year, it was 530 -- which was down from 2016, when it was 615.
Some years in Starkville, the numbers are similar. Both 2012 and 2017 saw 468 burglaries reported to the Starkville Police Department, with the years in between increasing from 217 in 2013 to 344 in 2016. As of May 31 of this year, 132 burglaries had been reported in Columbus to Starkville's 150.
Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols said burglaries are one of the major crime issues in Starkville -- particularly car burglaries at apartment complexes.
"The population of the Mississippi State University is increasing," he said. "Every year they break a record of the new population of the school."
Car burglars know the apartment complexes where students live and will move through the parking lot trying car doors until they find one vehicle unlocked and with valuables inside.
Luckily, he said, there is a simple solution to much of that crime: Lock car doors.
He added his officers have increased patrols in areas where burglaries are common, but students can still cut down on their chances of being crime victims if they make sure their car doors stay locked.
Shelton said in areas where car burglaries are common, Columbus police officers have also increased patrols. In the past, he has said the same thing as Nichols. The best way to prevent car burglaries is to lock doors and have valuables out of sight.
"That's something that we get out and try to do public service announcements on about locking doors," Nichols said. "In 95 percent of cases, the doors are not locked, and the valuables aren't out of sight. If we just locked our car doors, removed the valuables, we would cut down drastically on these crimes."
1. Russian-roulette-style game claims New Hope man's life COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Affidavit: Catholic priest covered up HIV diagnosis, misused donations STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. City faces lawsuit from bystander injured in officer-involved shooting COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY