KSNF/KODE — Crimes involving Jasper County’s kids are a significant trend in a new report showing growing numbers in 2022, and what that means in 2023.

“You know, we had a big bust here last year in 2022. Over on the west side of the county where an individual was grooming kids on the internet, going and picking them up from their houses and taking them back here and committing crimes,” said Jasper Co. Sheriff Randee Kaiser.

Just one part of a growing trend in crimes against children in Jasper County last year.

The numbers went from 85 reports in 2021 to 122 in 2022.

Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser points to the pandemic, and how it impacted not only the crimes themselves but also how they were reported.

“You know now we’re pretty much fully post-COVID And kids are in front of mandated reporters at a higher rate than ever before. So school bus drivers, teachers, etc. And that of course drives that number and those previous years, kids weren’t in front of mandated reporters and so a lot of stuff went unnoticed, at least unreported,” said Kaiser.

So prevention will be a big factor in 2023 — with the sheriff hosting classes focusing on online predators next month.

“Here in Carthage, it’s open to the public. It’s going to be held at the branch of the Christian Church here in Carthage. I anticipate that we’ll probably replicate this training a couple more times throughout the course of the year. I can’t emphasize to the public enough how significant this is,” said Kaiser.

Meanwhile, there were also increases in other crime categories, including burglary, tampering, and a slight jump in assault cases.

But there is also some good news in the report; homicide cases were down, dropping from three cases to one in 2022. There was also a slight decrease in stealing, and the number of adult sex crimes remained flat.

The sheriff adds there is an overall trend that stems from the pandemic.

“The COVID years 20 and 21 aren’t actually a true reflection of what our crime has historically been in Jasper County. If you compare those numbers, where we’re at in 22, and you go back to pre COVID We’re in the same range as we’ve always been and not any dramatic increases in burglaries or auto thefts or forcible assaults and things like that,” said Jasper Co. Sheriff Randee Kaiser.

Below is a breakdown of crime numbers by category/year.