Prior to the latest ransomware attack complicated access to the crime statistics of New Orleans.
New Orleans at the end of the year with 6,377 car break-ins — a 57% boost from 2018. The count has boosted in each of the last five years and has increased by about 160% since 2015, when there were 2,439 vehicle burglaries, according to statistics recorded by the City Council.
Compounding the issue, offenders are rarely picked up, according to City Council consultant Jeff Asher. Just about 1 in 10 car burglary cases ends up in an arrest, with the suspects frequently alleged of multiple vehicle break-ins.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson has been silent about exactly how the department might modify its car burglary strategy since news broke last week that the number of homicides in the last year hit a historic low. In the past, Ferguson has made it clear that fighting the violent-crime rate is his agency’s highest priority and that he will not peel away resources from that battle.
But Ferguson has also stated police consider it a significant goal to reduce the number of car break-ins in the city. He’s stated it could pay big dividends for police and prosecutors to go after repeat offenders like it has with violent offenses.
Law enforcement officials think there’s a relatively small group of people — dozens or hundreds — who are accountable for many of the city’s vehicle burglaries.
That was the intention when police in May arrested Cornell Sparkman, 18, who was associated with over 80 car break-ins, a number of armed carjackings and even attempted murders.
At the time, Ferguson’s staff predicted that arresting Sparkman and some of his alleged associates would help slow the amount of vehicle burglaries in the city. Trends as of mid-December appeared to buttress that belief: In the seven months after Sparkman’s arrest, the pace had been cut by about half.
Sparkman has pleaded not guilty to these accusations and is awaiting trial.
City Councilman Jason Williams, who chairs the council’s criminal justice committee, stated the issue should be an urgent one for officials, especially as homicides and other violent crimes continue to decrease. Break-ins often escalate into violent crime when guns or vehicles are stolen and are used in subsequent crimes.