(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The total number of reported crimes in St. Joseph spiked in 2017 compared to 2016, according to St. Joseph Police Department's annual crime report.
On Friday, St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally said about 12,300 crimes were reported in 2017. In 2016, the number was 11,400.
"Crime statistics are, you know, most of us only look at the report and we see categories where crime is up and it's a little bit unsettling. It's unsettling to us," Connally said.
The major categories of crime that saw a significant increase include motor vehicle thefts, stealing and aggravated assaults.
Motor vehicle thefts went from 611 reported cases in 2016 to 812 in 2017, an almost 32 percent increase.
"The message I have for people is we're going to continue to work harder and smarter to address these issues," Connally said.
Murder also saw a slight increase, according to the crime report. In 2016, there were seven reported murders, whereas in 2017 there were eight.
Chief Connally said the beginning of 2017 actually saw a slight decrease in crime by about five percent, but reports increased significantly during the summer months of June, July and August.
"The first four months of last year, January through April, we saw a decrease in crime of about five percent. And then, in May around the time school let out we saw a significant increase," Connally said. "In summer we usually see a bump, but we haven't seen a bump like we did this summer. This was more than a bump. This was - you know it just really jumped, and jumped fast."
However, some categories of crime did go down last year. These include: robbery, burglary and rape.
Connally credited some of the decrease in crime to neighborhood watch groups and programs. He said officers attended about 80 watch group information sessions last year.
According to the report, SJPD are predicting between 11,870 and 12,474 crimes to take place in 2018. However, Connally said crimes in January of '18 have decreased since last year.
So far, Connally said 766 crimes have been reported throughout the month of January compared to the 895 crimes reported in January of 1017.