Crime growth in Jones County

Many communities in Jones County are seeing an influx in the Hispanic population and not only is the Hispanic population growing but so is the crime.

Jones County investigators are still searching for the Hispanic male who allegedly robbed and assaulted an elderly woman early Sunday morning.  Authorities say although there are several leads in the case, catching him will be difficult.

"You have to do a lot of work to find out if they are illegal or not," says Jones County Sheriff's Department Investigator Carl Monk.  "Because most of them are going to have a social security card or immigration cards, so you don't know if they are illegal or not.  What we usually have to do is call immigration and they have to check them out for us."

This is just one of many cases JCSO is investigating involving illegal immigrants.  Over the Memorial Day weekend in Hattiesburg, police officers pulled over several Hispanic drivers for either no driver's license or proof of insurance.  HPD says it's policy is to issue a citation and not allow the person to drive away from the scene, something Laurel police officers struggle with every day.

"It would be extremely difficult to and bogging us down by having to check immigration status on every hispanic person. It's going to take our time away from normal policing," says Monk.

And the number of Hispanics arrested in 2006 nearly doubled from 2005, officials say this has caused a major problem for the justice system.