COLUMBIA — Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said proactive police work helped decrease the number of violent crimes in Columbia last year.
Violent crime decreased 36 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year, according to the Columbia Police Department's 2008 Crime Statistics report, released Thursday.
However, the poor economy, along with the city’s growing population, could be partly to blame for an 18.9 percent increase in property crimes, Dresner said.
“Columbia is Missouri’s fifth largest city, and has approximately 100,000 residents now,” he said.
Dresner sees the 2008 crime statistics as a mixture of good and bad news. “I would have liked to see a decrease in property crimes,” he said.
While burglary and larceny increased in 2008, auto theft decreased 33 percent. Dresner said the department will continue its Bait Car Program, an initiative started in 2007 aimed at using specially-outfitted vehicles to catch car thieves.
Along with the Bait Car Program, the department’s Street Crimes Unit plans to work to decrease the number of violent crimes in the upcoming year.
“We’re going to try to be everywhere the bad guys are,” Dresner said.
The department also plans to revamp the Neighborhood Watch program this year to notify the public of crimes through news releases and its Web site, Dresner said.