ALTON - The Alton Police Department released the preliminary crime statistics for 2017 and the total of index crimes reported were 1,178 incidents; down 14 percent from 2016’s 1,363 incidents.

“The preliminary crime statistics are in for 2017, and they look good,” said Alton Police Chief Jason Simmons.

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The largest reductions in crime were in the categories of burglary, down 27 percent, and sex offenses showing a drop of 21 percent this year. Criminal homicide showed no change with only one criminal homicide reported in 2017.

Many Altonians are already aware that motor vehicle theft is on the rise in the Riverbend area, and the numbers for 2017 support that sentiment. Alton’s motor vehicle theft count raised from 47 in 2016 to 65 last year, an increase of 38 percent.

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“I am concerned about the motor vehicle thefts occurring in Alton and surrounding communities and we need help from the citizens of Alton to get them to stop,” said Chief Simmons. “Let’s take a first step together and take away the opportunities for a lot of these thefts in the first place. Gone are the days of leaving our doors unlocked and our cars running in the drive or in front of a business. There are too many people who will take advantage and, in turn, your vehicle.”

There was also an increase of arsons reported in 2017, up to nine from the five reported in 2016. Many of the arsons reported in 2017 remain open investigations at the time of the release of these figures.

The Alton Police adopted a community policing model several years ago and recommitted to the effort in the last year. As a result, more community members are calling when they see suspicious activity and often crimes are prevented before they occur. The Alton Police would always rather check on something that looks suspicious and it turn out to be nothing than have a crime occur.

When shown the statistics, Mayor Brant Walker said, “This is great news, and it proves what I’ve been saying for years. Although crime seems to be on the rise across the nation, the numbers are reflective of the use of the community policing model and the relationship our officers have with Alton residents. I remain confident in the ability of Chief Jake Simmons and our police officers to keep our city safe and I would like to thank them all for their hard work and dedication.”

In 2018 residents can expect to see even more community partnerships with the Alton Police Department. Educational opportunities and community outreach events will be announced as they become available.

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