He spent Thursday afternoon at the
But when he returned to his Honda Pilot parked near the
"That's the way it is," said a disappointed Buschow, 69, who lives near
Neither the laptop on Buschow's front seat nor the GPS device attached to the windshield was taken because
The break-in was just one crime among many that plague
A bigger police presence in the park has been fueled by the city's regaining control of the department from the state last year and the redistricting that started in January, police say. The department reduced its districts to six from nine and evened out the number of officers per district. When that started,
Before redistricting, police say, two traffic cops would patrol the 1,300-acre park but would sometimes be called outside of its boundaries to help with traffic control.
"It's obviously a playground for everybody," said Vogt, who is in his 25th year with the department and is coordinating the new security efforts at the park. "The visibility will be more than double what it was last year. My goal this summer is that people will feel comfortable here."
Vogt said he has also been coordinating security strategies for the 73 security guards at the art museum, zoo, science center and history museum. Also, the department's mounted patrol, which has four horses, reopened in the park last fall after lead paint contamination in 2009 forced a move to a temporary stable in west
City park rangers are receiving training through the
Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit organization charged with maintenance and restoration of the park, is working with the police and the parks department to identify needed improvements to signs and lighting. The city has already painted some curbs bright yellow to designate no-parking zones and improve visibility at intersections when streets are jammed with cars in the summer. Some signs throughout the park are expected to be removed or replaced in coming months.
City crime statistics show crime in the park trending downward since 2012. Last year, overall crime in the park dropped by 11 percent compared to a year earlier, according to city police statistics.
Through April of this year, thieves have hit 21 vehicles in the park, compared to 48 break-ins over the same period last year, police say.
But while they have become less frequent, car break-ins remain a persistent problem. In the past four years, three out of four thefts reported in the park were from cars.
Last year, in addition to multiple car break-ins, robberies and a fatal shooting made for unsettling headlines.
In September, an off-duty
"The car break-ins bug me the most," she said. "Because you hear about them all the time."
"Just the presence of an authority figure makes you feel safe even if they're not around 24-7," he said while spritzing down his red Buick.
Police hope the bigger force continues the drop in car break-ins and further reduces overall crime in
Buschow, the park visitor whose SUV was targeted by thieves Thursday, said he left
"I guess I asked for it by leaving the stuff in there," he said.
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