The Missourian has heard complaints from readers that we have too many crime stories. They are right. But as a newspaper trying to serve and inform the community, we can’t ignore crime. Our mission is to report the good and the bad.
We remember when a city councilman raked us over burning coals for having too many negative stories, especially about city government. Truth is, city government in those days, decades ago, created the negative news. The Missourian’s job was to report it.
However, at that time, we took it upon ourselves to look at several editions of The Missourian, and we found stories with a positive nature far outnumbered the negative ones. That still is true today.
Franklin County today has more than 100,000 people. With population growth comes more crime. We remember well when the county was much smaller, say 50,000 people, and the crime reports were fewer and less serious than today. Covering the sheriff’s office, a crime nuisance in large numbers, every week, were burglaries of clubhouses along the Bourbeuse River and Meramec River. It was petty type of stealing — fishing equipment, occasionally a TV set, guns and food. Every now and then a boat and motor would be taken.
When flash foods took their toll on clubhouses, those types of burglaries were no longer large in number. We had serious crimes also, but the numbers were small, such as the bombing of the courthouse and bank robberies, a few murders, residential burglaries, theft of vehicles and farm equipment, and always there was some vandalism.
As the drug scene moved into the county, crimes skyrocketed, and that invasion is ongoing. Today, a majority of the crimes in the county are drug-related. Addicts turn to stealing, and among the items being taken are computers, to
obtain money to buy drugs. The computers and other stolen items apparently can be fenced rather easily, especially in St. Louis. Stealing from vehicles occurs also. Addicts will steal anything if it has value to obtain money to satisfy their habits.
We went through a period when meth houses were common and raids kept law enforcement busy. But that seems to have lessened somewhat and now there is a heroin surge.
There always has been vandalism. It is still with us today. Every now and then there is a rash of mailbox destruction and lawns often are messed up by driving a vehicle over them when the ground is soft.
A Missourian reader brought in a “letter from his mailbox” and it didn’t quite fit the requirements for a letter to the editor. But we will include it in this column. The man is elderly and didn’t want his name used. He titled his mailbox letter “Hit and Run.” Here it is:
“Early on Monday, July 31, you hit me and destroyed my beauty and charm in my setting on Dunn Spring Road. I didn’t feel a thing when you plowed over me. My owner, a senior citizen, 77 years old, living on a fixed income, was in pain having to put out $100 to restore my beauty and charm. He has waited two weeks for you to stop by and pay for the damage. My remains are still in a box alongside of the road in case you forgot the location. Signed, The Destroyed Mailbox. P.S. Hope your car or truck wasn’t damaged too severely.”
Since we have had the experience of having a mailbox vandalized, we know of the pain and anger in suffering this type of crime. Vandalism is among the stupidest of crimes. Often it is done while under the influence of liquor, or drugs, and apparently it gives the perpetrators a false sense of power, if they have any sense!