By James Zambroski
(LOUISVILLE) -- On the same day an undercover metro police officer had his unmarked SUV stolen from his driveway, the FBI issued a report that shows crime in Louisville is growing faster than the national rate. Although police say there are some positives in the report, a candidate for mayor calls it scandalous. WAVE 3 Investigator James Zambroski reports.
Too often when we think of crime, we think of the same old neighborhoods. But police told WAVE 3 there may be as many as 100 victims of Springhurst area burglary ring they broke up last week.
And it doesn't matter who you are or where you live, as one undercover officer learned when his unmarked police vehicle was stolen from his driveway not long after he moved to an upscale east end neighborhood to get away from crime.
Brad Carson says he can relate. "Last week, I had a lawn mower stolen out of my backyard during the day. I caught a young man in my backyard who was obviously looking for more."
A report from the FBI released Monday shows Louisville is bucking national trends when it comes to violent and property crimes. Violent crimes shot up 19 percent in the metro versus 2.5 percent nationally. Property crimes, including vehicle theft is up 5 percent here, although it's down 2 percent nationwide.
Lt. Col. Phillip Turner says simple precautions like keeping car doors locked could prevent auto theft.
Violent crimes include murder, rape, assault and robbery. Metro police say there is some good news in the report. "Our homicides were down," Turner said. "Our sex offenses were down."
Metro police say there were 70 murders in 2004, and that number dropped 16 percent to 59 murders in 2005. But metro councilman Kelly Downard, the Republican candidate for mayor, disputes that figure. "The FBI says 55, the police say 59, our records show 64. What do yours show? Mine said 66."
Downard says the discrepancy is "almost scandalous -- the numbers change everyday I see them. I mean, people are being murdered and the numbers just change. That's shameful."
Police commanders say their approach to crime fighting changes as statistics warrant. "That is our job."
Downard says our police force could be more effective if morale were to improve. "The morale in our police department is as low as I've ever seen it and I've known those people for many years."
Metro police say they've known about the FBI numbers since last December, although they weren't released to the public until Monday.
Based on the report, police tell us they've made adjustments in how they're attacking crime in the metro area. They point out that business robberies are down this year, but acknowledge that bank robberies are way up.
As for the number of murders, there does appear to be significant discrepancies in the latest report that we'll investigate further in the days ahead.
Online Reporter: James Zambroski