Reported crimes in Pine Bluff were down almost 16 percent in March, compared with a year ago, according to the latest report from the police department. For the first three months of the year, reported crimes were down almost 24 percent compared with the same time period in 2013.
Last month, there were 455 crimes reported, compared with 540 during March 2013 — 15.74 percent less.
So far this year, there have been 1,172 crimes reported, 367 fewer than for the first three months of 2013 — 23.85 percent less.
Robberies and aggravated assaults both declined, with robberies dropping from 17 in March 2013 to seven last month, and aggravated assaults going from 34 in March 2013 to 29 last month.
Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said Friday the decreases could be contributed to a couple of factors — first, the December arrest of a group of individuals linked to a series of robberies, and second, actions by Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter and his office.
“He’s doing what he promised he would do,” Hubanks said. “Asking for high bonds for some of these violent offenders and the judges are granting the requests, particularly for some of the names that reoccur over and over again.”
There was one fewer rape or attempted rape (four) last month than was reported in March 2013 while the number of simple assaults remained the same, 162 for each year.
So far this year, there have been three homicides reported, the same number as there were through the first three months of 2013. Hubanks said that while homicides are difficult to prevent or predict, “We’re working on that as hard as we can.”
Commercial burglaries increased from 10 in March 2013 to 13 last month, while residential burglaries went from 60 in March 2013 to 75 last month.
“It’s hard to get a grip on the burglary pattern because they’re occurring all over,” Hubanks said. “That’s something we will probably give to the bike patrol because they’ve had success in those kinds of crimes before.”
Hubanks said the department has recently encountered a lot of car break-ins, particularly on motel parking lots.
“Guys come into town to work and their stuff is getting stolen,” Hubanks said. “That’s something we’re paying extra attention to.”
Thefts of motor vehicles dropped from 19 in March 2013 to 17 last month.
On another subject, police will institute their new policy for accidents on private parking lots that result in only property damage Monday.
Those accidents will no longer be investigated and drivers of the vehicles involved will be given forms they can fill out and exchange with the other drivers for insurance purposes.
Accidents involving personal injuries, significant property damage or hit and run will be handled the same as before.