Hope for reversing the tidal wave of stolen vehicles in the St. Louis region

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A recent crime summit pointed to a police intelligence gathering from the St. Charles County Stolen Car Task Force that has proved critical to today’s solutions. The task force’s findings showed signs of what we would soon see throughout the region.

A rise in stolen cars that looked like a tsunami wave, with a peak in St. Louis County alone, reached nearly 400 stolen cars in August 2022.

That wave has since fallen to about half that in St. Louis County, with it dipping below 150 this past November.

Courtesy: St. Louis County Police Department

Detective Michael Nickolaus, St. Louis County Police Department, said they’ve identified an investigative blueprint that seems to be working.

“These cases are catching up to these people committing these crimes,” he told a criminal justice panel.

Nickolaus credits a collaborative approach that arose from meetings like an October 2022 roundtable FOX 2 covered between north St. Louis County police departments and juvenile court representatives.

Officers vented frustrations about taking an offender to juvenile detention, only to find them back out in an hour inside another stolen car.

The St. Louis County juvenile courts responded.

Suspect shot and killed after firing shots outside O’Fallon City Hall

“What I’ve experienced is a willingness on their part to do as much as they can do legally to assist law enforcement to lower these crimes in our region,” Nickolaus said.

Pat Kelly, director of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis added, “It has gotten better.” Kelly outlined the requirement of 15 points under the Missouri Supreme Court’s point system to detain a young suspect. A felony is worth 12 points. So, a juvenile would have to commit a felony and another crime to be held over.

Kelly said the courts were not always adding up the offenses.

“In many instances, police actually had to take those individuals back home,” he said. “And it has gotten better over the period of the last year, but we want to make sure it gets even better.”

What is not improving is the danger posed by criminals breaking into cars, who police say are increasingly armed.

“Property crimes are not worth your life,” Nickolaus said. “Let law enforcement get involved. We are ready and willing and able to do that.”


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