LOCAL NEWS

After several incidents, many people in St. George are wondering if crime is on the rise

Dec 19, 2023, 9:04 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2023, 5:53 am

ST. GEORGE — There is no doubt the St. George area is growing.

Any resident can tell you their concerns about the rapid growth when it comes to traffic, water and rising affordability.

However, after Monday, you cannot blame many people for talking about crime.

“Yes. Definitely,” said Martias Veldez. “We moved here to get away from crime. You want to raise your family in something less crime-wise so you definitely get super sad.”

The St. George Police Department was busier than normal on Monday with two major incidents.

They involved a carjacking, robbery of a jewelry store and an ATM, and police chases.

Residents feeling nervous

Even though all but one of the suspects in these crimes have been arrested by officers, a lot of residents were replying on social media pages wondering what was happening in a town more known for its peaceful and slower-paced lifestyle.

“It makes me very uneasy. We have kids and grandkids and I do not like the way it is going,” said resident Valerie Gunn. “It is the growth. We have had a lot of people moving in from different states.”

But is that growth from people moving into the area the reason for these crimes?

We asked St. George police about it.

“From what we have seen, it’s not necessarily our citizens coming here to live here and to work here and to recreate here that our committing these crimes,” St. George police spokeswoman Tiffany Mitchell said. “A lot of these crimes are from groups from out of the area. These groups work, they have a route that they travel. We just happen to be a stop on it with these crime sprees.”

The St. George Police Department was busier than normal on Monday with two major incidents. (KSL TV)

By the  numbers

Here are some numbers from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification for different types of crimes in St. George in the past five years.

Robbery

  • 2019 – 20
  • 2020 – 20
  • 2021 – 19
  • 2022 – 12
  • 2023 (so far) – 11

Theft

  • 2019 – 1,266
  • 2020 – 1,199
  • 2021 – 1,183
  • 2022 – 1,243
  • 2023 (so far) – 830

Property Damage/Vandalism

  • 2019 – 1,007
  • 2020 – 970
  • 2021 – 1,135
  • 2022 – 1,147
  • 2023 (so far) – 767

Burglary

  • 2019 – 242
  • 2020 – 202
  • 2021 – 155
  • 2022 – 149
  • 2023 (so far) – 89

Aggravated Assault

  • 2019 – 105
  • 2020 – 101
  • 2021 – 130
  • 2022 – 143
  • 2023 (so far) – 57

One reason why many residents might think crimes are happening more is because of the efforts by St. George police to be more transparent on its social media pages.

“We are putting out more information to the public in effort to keep them informed and keep them safe and keep them educated. We want to help them to feel a part of the community and know what is going on,” said Mitchell. “With that comes the knowledge that things are happening, where maybe three to five years ago we weren’t putting out that information as often.”

More crime is certainly something the public does not want to see.

In several cases, members of the public have held a criminal down for police, or like in one of Monday’s incidents, a father and son witnessed a crime and called police while following them to let officers know where they were.

“We appreciate the public’s help and we will arrest those who are doing these crimes,” said Mitchell. “Don’t try it here or you are going to end up in cuffs. Let’s put it that way.”

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After several incidents, many people in St. George are wondering if crime is on the rise