Last week, The Sanibel Police Department released statistical data relating to crimes in 2011 and Police Chief Bill Tomlinson says the figures indicate declines in assault-related crimes, automobile accidents and overall crime reporting as logged by the department.
In terms of petty theft, Sanibel has seen a diminishing of these crimes for the third year in a row, down from 94 in 2010 to 88 in 2011. Assault-related crimes are the lowest in four years, indicating a 50% decrease for 2011, or down to 5 in 2011 vs 10 in 2010.
There was a slight increase in burglaries, distinguished from theft in that it involves one who breaks into a business or dwelling. Burglaries increased from 18 in 2010 to 24 in 2011. "While we have seen a rise in burglaries... I am encouraged by the decrease in assaults..." says Chief Tomlinson. "Through increased patrol, education and community involvement, we will continue to focus on prevention of crime and enforcement of laws to further decrease crime on Sanibel."
The most significant find within the statistics tracked by Department is the decline of auto accidents. These have fallen by approximately 48% from 169 in 2010 to 88 in 2011. The long term analysis reveals that since 2003, the number of accidents have decreased by 60%. Those figures are interesting in that overall traffic numbers in Sanibel seem to indicate a larger number of people driving on the road. Chief Tomlinson thinks the decrease in accidents is attributed to increased traffic enforcement and less frequent stop-and-go driving patterns (a factor formerly associated with the drawbridge). He also credit's the City's separation of shared-used bike paths from area roadways has helped. Otherwise, he indicates one other thing that may have helped spur the reduction - "Cars have better brakes."
Finally, over the past four years, the police department has realized a 28% decrease in total calls for service, from a peak of 32,424 four years ago to 23,542 calls for service in 2011. Calls for service includes every manner of criminal report, from ordinance violations and arrests to calls for service and area checks initiated to prevent crime in areas deemed as higher risk, such as the fishing pier, beach accesses, business zones.
Crime stats are low overall, or as Chief Tomlinson says, "Typical Sanibel."