At the May 8 GDCA board meeting, Officer Haley Stafford with the Baton Rouge Police Department gave your Board an overview of crime and crime prevention tips for our neighborhood. She reported that the Garden District is a small area of District 2, which has a very large geographical footprint. (District 2 is an area that includes the Mississippi River levee to Independence Park, to Staring Lane, Florida to Airline, and Tigerland).
Officer Stafford stated that burglary (automobile, garage, and shed) is the most common crime in our neighborhood. Offenders are looking for lawn and garden equipment, bicycles, electronics and guns that can easily be sold on the street to pawn shops or even on-line. A recent victim of a burglary found his stolen tools for sale on the website “Let Go”. She added that firearms stolen out of automobiles are quickly sold on the street to buyers who are not legally able to buy firearms (unable to pass background checks, etc). She asked that everyone please do not leave firearms in your vehicles.
Officer Stafford also reported that she and her fellow officers see posted photos/video footage and read information about crime on Nextdoor.com that is not being provided to the police. She strongly recommended that residents provide all useful information regarding all crime, including security camera footage to the police. She stated that more and more, the crimes being solved are because of security camera photos or videos provided to detectives. Homeowners, she said, often request DNA samples be taken at the crime scene but she stated that each division is only allowed to submit ten DNA samples per month.
Officer Stafford asked that we please be patient with investigations. She indicated that people may be reluctant to report the crimes because they think nothing will be done. However, it may take two or three weeks before a detective contacts you after your initial report because their docket is so full. She strongly urged neighborhood residents to report ALL criminal activity. An example, she gave of how this can make a difference: She said, if a perpetrator goes to court, accused of five burglaries (but actually burglarized ten homes or cars), the judge will impose a lighter sentence than if the judge knows that he has burglarized ten homes or cars. She stressed that it is very important that we report all crimes so that habitual offenders are dealt with properly.
She summarized her presentation with the following best practices that we all should follow to enhance the safety of our neighborhood:
- REMOVE firearms from vehicles
- INSTALL security cameras
- LOCK your vehicles
- RECORD serial numbers of your tools, lawn equipment, bicycles, etc.
- REPORT all crimes and suspicious activities to police
Officer Stafford is our contact with the Garden District’s Off-Duty Patrol and she pledged to keep us informed on issues of mutual concern. We are all grateful to Officer Stafford for sharing her thoughts and suggestions and the association and its neighbors look forward to further interactions with her.