CLAYTON, Mo. – More than 10 police departments in St. Louis County have just pulled off a crime-fighting feat in the St. Louis region, which they have done twice. They have recorded two nights without a single car theft or car break-in.

The departments are finding it better when they are not just out working on their own and not just responding to crime calls. Instead, they are working together to prevent burglaries before they happen.

Clayton, Richmond Heights, Maplewood, Ladue, Brentwood, Olivette, Creve Coeur, Frontenac, Town and Country, Des Peres, and Ballwin police, joined St. Louis County police for their first saturation efforts to stop the thefts and break-ins of cars that have been happening in their departments and the rest of St. Louis.

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“We can’t do it all by ourselves,” said Chief James Cavins for the Town and Country Police Department. “We have to show a concerted front that we’re going to battle this together and hopefully not just move it someplace else, but we’re going to minimize it with the end goal of eliminating it, but we have to come together as a team.”

Cavins said that each department had agreed to have at least two officers patrol their own areas at a certain time. Should the need arise, they were available to aid officers in other jurisdictions. Over the course of six months in 2022, the departments shared statistics and police information about car crimes. Using that information, the departments agreed upon times for the first saturation efforts. There have been two of them so far. The first was from midnight to 6:00 a.m. on a November weekday. The second was on a weekend night in December from 4:00 p.m. to midnight.

The first effort included a case in Clayton. The police believe that a suspect was looking for cars to break into after midnight while driving a vehicle that had been stolen from Arnold a week before. The suspect was driving more than 80 mph in a 35 mph zone on Big Bend near Wydown, according to a court document. He crashed, was arrested, and charged with multiple felonies.

The police say that the first November saturation effort led to 210 traffic stops and 22 arrests. Five cars that had been stolen before were found and returned.

The numbers were much lower in December, when St. Louis County police were unable to participate. There were 93 stops, one stolen car recovered, and two arrests.

The most important number from both efforts was “zero”: no departments reported a single car break-in or theft during these first two saturation efforts.

“That is absolutely unseen,” Cavins said. “The best crime-fighting tool that we have is the visibility of marked police cars with officers in uniform, saturating our community. The more officers we have on the street that are more visible, that’s the best crime-fighting tool that we have.”

The hope is to combine these with similar efforts like the one that has been successful in St. Charles County, and secure funding for police over time to keep it up long-term.