(Photo: Pixabay.com)

To read this story, sign in or register with your email address. You’ll get two more free stories, plus free newsletters written by our reporting team.

You’ve read all your free stories this month. Subscribe now and unlock unlimited access to our stories, exclusive subscriber content, additional newsletters, invitations to special events, and more.

Register Subscribe

Springfield police are cracking down on property crime, and officers are asking for help from the general public to discourage burglaries, thefts and stealing from cars.

Police Chief Paul Williams showed the Springfield City Council some data on property crime for the first five months of 2022 as part of his monthly presentation to the Council on June 27. Overall, property crime in Springfield fell almost 27 percent in the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period last year.

Springfield also experienced a 30-percent drop in burglary and breaking and entering cases, and a 24-percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts.

Williams believes the police department’s public information campaigns — which help residents know how to better secure their homes and vehicles — is one reason for these falling figures.

There were more than 15,000 property crimes in Springfield in 2021, which was a 34-percent drop from 2020, when there were more than 17,000. According to the police department’s 2021 annual crime report, officers investigated 1,527 burglaries in 2021, an average of 4 per day. There were 2,617 instances of thefts from vehicles being reported to police, an average of 7 times per day.

Springfield police advise drivers to park in well lit areas, and to avoid leaving valuables in a car. Never leave items in such a way that they can be easily spotted through a car’s windows and windshields. (Photo by Rance Burger)

“Our property crimes investigators are the most overwhelmed,” Williams said. “Of any of our investigators, they have more cases. It’s hard to follow up on those, it’s least likely to solve them.”

Nationwide, only about 15 to 17 percent of property crimes are solved by police, Williams said.

In May, Springfield police offered up to 10 hours of overtime pay for property crimes investigators to follow up on their backlogged cases. Williams said the investigators used the time to “take those cases that I’ll say were stagnant — suspended, had been sitting — as new cases came in every day.” The participating investigators looked at a total of 86 financial crimes, burglary and larceny and vehicle theft cases. With 148 hours of overtime pay, they cleared 62 of those cases.

“Investigators were very enthused about this,” Williams said. “They’re very encouraged. The commanders pushed for this. I think we’ll do it on a recurring basis, periodically, throughout the rest of the year to make sure that the overload of cases does not bog folks down to where they get demoralized, and we really aren’t able to investigate anything to its fullest extent.”

Police focusing on these four hot spots

On June 1, the Springfield Police Department launched a program called Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS). It uses data to determine geographic spaces in Springfield where additional traffic enforcement and preventive patrols could lead to reductions in traffic incidents and other crimes, like theft and other property crime.

The initial data analysis identified four intersections that, coincidentally, form a square on the map of Springfield. The hotspot intersections are Kansas Expressway and Kearney Street, Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue, Glenstone Avenue and Sunshine Street, and Kansas Expressway and Sunshine Street.

Williams says these four points on the map will become places where Springfield police officers will step up their work.

“When you’re not responding to call for service, when you’ve got some free time and this is within your area of responsibility or your side of town, spend some time in one of these areas,” Williams said. “In the meantime, seeking out people with warrants, guns and drugs.”

A property crime heat map of Springfield shows burglaries from the months of April, May and June were most prominent in the Grant Beach, West Center, Downtown and Midtown neighborhoods in Springfield. (Illustration courtesy of the Springfield Police Department)

Preventing theft from your car or home

A property crime heat map of Springfield shows burglaries from the months of April, May and June were most prominent in the Grant Beach, West Center, Downtown and Midtown neighborhoods in Springfield.

In the third quarter of 2022, the Springfield Police Department will conduct a public information campaign to combat instances of money and property being stolen from parked vehicles. Theft from a motor vehicle is a crime police say occurs all over Springfield.

How to prevent theft from a vehicle

Tips from the Springfield Police Department

  • Don’t leave anything in your vehicle in plain sight that you would not want taken.
  • Always lock your doors, even if you plan to be away from your vehicle for only a minute, such as running in to pay for gas.
  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • When shopping, always make sure to place purchases in the trunk and out of sight before driving to the next shopping area to park.
  • Try to maintain a “clutter-free” vehicle.
  • If you don’t have the luxury of parking your vehicle in a garage at night and have to leave it parked in the driveway or on the street in front of the house, make sure to remove the garage door opener. This is a key to your home.

Is your home safe?

Tips from the Springfield Police Department

  • Do trees and shrubs obscure doors and windows, or do they provide a place where an intruder could hide?
  • Does your residence give off the impression that no one is home?
  • Are storage buildings or sheds left unlocked?
  • Is the garage door open or unlocked?
  • Are any basement windows or exterior doors left unlocked, or easy to open?
  • Are any ground floor doors left unlocked? Are any windows broken or otherwise unable to lock and close?
  • Are there any other openings such as crawl spaces, vents or skylights that might look inviting to a burglar?
  • Are any cars and vehicles left outside unlocked, and/or with the keys in the ignition?
  • Are vehicles parked in badly-lighted areas?

Rance Burger

Rance Burger is the managing editor for the Daily Citizen. He previously covered local governments from February 2022 to April 2023. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger