The weather is warm, so crime is on the rise

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Local law enforcement seeking public assistance on solving cases

Crime is on the upswing since the weather is warming, and local law enforcement officials are asking for the public’s help in solving some of the misdeeds taking place in the community.

In Monett, counterfeit bills are once again circulating, with $100 denominations being passed most often.

According to Det. Melissa Phillips, with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, a bogus $100 bill was also passed at Casey’s General Store in Miller.

“Thefts and burglaries have really picked up in the last few days,” Phillips said. “Catalytic converter thefts are up again. We have a suspect and his vehicle on video at a church in Mt. Vernon. We also have a guy who is stealing vehicles, who is connected to similar events in Strafford. He has hit the old Miller School off Hwy. UU twice. We ran the plate on the suspect vehicle, and it came back as stolen from out of Strafford.

“Unfortunately, we have so many halfway houses and prison release programs in Lawrence County, we don’t know who is actually in the area or who isn’t. We have a lot of chicken houses that hire work release juveniles and adults, and they are not required to report that they are in the county. It makes our job more difficult when we are trying to track down suspects.”

In Purdy, Police Chief Jackie Lowe said juvenile problems are on the rise, with some attempting to steal vehicles.

“They tend to congregate at an abandoned home to smoke pot and hang out,” he said “We are trying to get it condemned and removed so people can’t use it as a drug house hangout anymore.”

Det. Abby Parsons, with the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, reported thefts and call volumes have increased, and that it’s getting to be a busy time of year for law enforcement officials in that county.

“We have lake patrol starting in May and running through September,” she said. “So in addition to our regular duties, we will be patrolling the lake throughout the summer months.”

At the Cassville Police Department, Det. Stuart Lombard reported a lot of property crimes taking place, along with a rise in thefts from vehicles during the overnight hours.

In Monett, Jay Jastal, school resource officer, reported a tip concerning drugs at school had proved to be factual, and a student was disciplined through district protocols for that infraction.

Monett investigators are also looking into the recent vandalism at Burl Fowler Stadium in Monett.

“The vandals used some type of sprayed material on the astroturf, causing significant damage,” Jastal said. “The verbiage on the field indicated that it was a student or students from Pierce City, and the images were graphic. We do know whoever the culprit was can’t spell or draw. At this time, officers are seeking information on who the perpetrators are, and charges are expected to be filed due to the expense of having to remove the substance.”

Anyone having information on the crime is asked to contact the Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers at 417-354-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-635-TIPS (8477). Rewards are given for information leading to the arrest of felons. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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