BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says sexual assaults spiked in 2021, even as the majority of other categories of crime decreased or remained relatively unchanged.

According to the latest crime statistics released by BPSO Wednesday, the number of sexual assaults reported in the parish increased by 166.7 percent from 15 in 2020 to 40 in 2021.

“The increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in 2021 is alarming and very disturbing to us,” Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington said. “However, we want to reassure the residents of Bossier Parish that this is not the case of a suspect randomly preying on strangers.”

The sheriff’s office says a vast majority of the 40 reported sexual assaults in the parish were crimes against children by either a family member or family acquaintance. They also say that they have invested heavily in the latest technology and work with the Attorney General’s Office to aggressively pursue those who would prey on children.

Crime statistics for Bossier Parish in 2021 did tell a more positive story when it comes to homicides and property crimes.

Homicides remained static with one reported in 2021, while robberies decreased by 50% from six in 2020 to three in 2021. The sheriff’s office says an effort to reduce thefts of firearms from vehicles also appears to have made an impact, with the ones that were reported were overwhelmingly in cases where vehicles were left unlocked.

There were a total of 75 vehicle break-ins in 2021, down from 92 in 2020. And of those 75 break-ins, 70 of the vehicles were unlocked, with 27 guns reported stolen out of those vehicles.

“That’s the reason why it’s crucial for everyone to remember to lock their car doors at night, to prevent this type of crime from occurring,” said Sheriff Whittington said.

“Since the tragic incident involving the theft of a firearm from a vehicle, that led to the death of the homeowner in 2018, the Bossier Sheriff’s Office has made the prevention of this type of crime a priority,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “Immediately after this event, Sheriff Whittington created a Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT) with all the other local law enforcement agencies, to address vehicle break-ins.”

The Sheriff’s Office also launched a community-based L.O.C. (Lock your doors; Observe your surroundings; Call about anything suspicious) campaign, reminding residents about the importance of always locking their vehicles to help protect their own property.

Whittington says that effort cut down thefts from vehicles by 18.5% in 2021.

Thefts of vehicles themselves, however, increased by 45% in 2021. Of the 35 vehicles stolen last year, 20 of them were left unlocked with the keys inside. The remaining 15 were motorcycles, ATVs, or stolen by fraudulent means.

Another one of the more positive trends in Bossier Parish crime in 2021 was a significant decrease in burglaries, which were down by 16% despite the fact that Bossier is the fastest-growing parish in north Louisiana. According to the latest census, Bossier Parish has grown by more than 10% and continues to grow as new developments are being built throughout the parish.

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“Keeping Bossier Parish safe relies heavily on a continued strong partnership between the community and the men and women of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Whittington said. “The continued influx of people into our parish reflects the success of our combined efforts to keep Bossier Parish a great place to live and work.”