The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

May 7, 2009

Task force targeted property crimes

By Jeff Lehr

The Joplin Police Department revealed Thursday that a three-state property-crimes task force that was formed in April concluded operations last week after making several arrests and recovering more than $30,000 worth of stolen property.

Lt. Michael Hobson, head of the criminal investigations division of the Police Department, said the Tri-State Task Force Against an Increase in Crime was formed April 13 to address a March spike in property crimes in the area. The short-term task force concluded its joint operations Friday, although some investigations that sprang from the effort are being continued by participating agencies.

Hobson said the Joplin Police Department initiated the effort after meeting with law-enforcement officials from surrounding agencies and realizing that several suspects in crimes committed in Joplin were suspected of crimes in those jurisdictions as well.

Hobson said some of those arrested in the operation are known members of a prison gang dubbed the Joplin Honkies.

“Some of them are Joplin Honkies,” Hobson said. “The majority of them are not.”

Not organized

The property crimes that were being committed do not reflect an organized gang effort, Hobson said. He said the only place the gang has any actual form of organization is within Missouri’s prison system. On the outside, the Honkies tend to be only loosely associated and “not that organized,” he said.

Hobson said Joplin saw an 80 percent increase in property crimes in March. He said most of the increase was in burglaries of businesses, thefts from vehicles and vehicle thefts. Vehicle thefts alone rose by 250 percent, he said.

Hobson said two defendants who were taken into custody in stolen-vehicle chases inside the Joplin city limits before the formation of the task force are believed to have contributed to the spike in property crimes.

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