CrimeTracker Investigation: Hundreds of robberies remain unsolved

CrimeTracker Investigation: Hundreds of robberies remain unsolved

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - You've heard from the victims and you've seen the surveillance videos of brazen armed robbers striking in broad daylight - sometimes with several witnesses around.

In this special Crimetracker Investigation, FOX 8 looks at what happens after a crime is committed. We also examine the investigations and possible arrests that will clear a case.

"Solving these crimes is extremely important, in my opinion - as important as preventing them," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said.

We’ve analyzed 22 months of armed robbery data across the city. In all of last year, and the first 10 months of this year, there were 1,688 armed robberies. The districts with the most armed robberies is the Seventh, which consists of New Orleans East. In 2014, there were 162 armed robberies.

The NOPD made arrests in 26 of those cases, and the Seventh District has a 16 percent clearance rate.

"There are a number of reasons why the clearance rates are different from district to district, and it doesn't always have to do with the number of armed robberies," Harrison said.

Harrison said sometimes resources aren't available, such as when detectives are being promoted and moved to other positions.

"Sometimes robberies are not always linked together, and so when you take a district like New Orleans East that is very big, the robberies are sometimes isolated. In other districts, robberies are more often linked together in smaller, less densely populated areas," Harrison said.

7th District detectives were able to solve more cases this year than last, bringing the clearance rate up to 23 percent in 2015.

The worst clearance rate, though, is in the Third District which consists of Lakeview and Gentilly.

In 2014, there were 130 armed robberies. Arrests were made in 20 of those cases - a clearance rate of 15 percent or 85 percent unsolved.

"It could be a number of issues, like the inexperience of detectives; although we train detectives constantly. It could be the resources available to that district," Harrison said.

The spot with the fewest armed robberies is Algiers. There were 46 incidents so far this year in the Fourth District. Arrests were made in 12 of those cases, for a 26 percent clearance rate.

The Second and Sixth districts, though, have a clearance rate nearly twice that of the Fourth. Out of 97 armed robberies this year in the Second District, which consists of Uptown, 45 of them are solved. That's a 47 percent clearance rate.

"So, if you remember, there were a number of fast food restaurants that were getting robbed, but it was one person who was committing multiple robberies, so when we caught him, we cleared a number of them. There were also a number of armed robberies that another person committed. We caught him and cleared a number of cases," Harrison said.

In the Sixth District, which consists of Central City, the Garden District and Irish Channel, there's a 43 percent clearance solve rate. Again, Chief Harrison believes several crimes committed in this district were committed by the same person. Once that person was caught, the solve rate increased. He said witnesses and surveillance video are key to solving armed robberies.

"Those are the two big factors. I would put both of those right at the top," Harrison said.

Still, there are no guarantees. The high profile armed robberies of Patois, Atchafalaya, and Monkey Hill Bar are still unsolved.

"They were hooded. They had masks on and gloves on. There was very little evidence left behind in each one of those, so we're working hard to solve them. I can tell you that there are leads, and our detectives are pursuing those leads," Harrison said.

With a 38 percent increase in armed robberies in 2014 compared to the previous year, and what is right now a 3 percent increase in 2015, Harrison admits that the NOPD is taking notice.

"It is something that obviously has our attention, and commanders are being held accountable for the crime in their districts, so the detectives are performing. They are very dedicated. Just like the shootings and homicides, when this happens we pay close attention to it. We work very hard to solve it," said Harrison.

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