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Sanibel a safe community… but lock your doors anyway

By Staff | Dec 3, 2008

Last week, a very un-Sanibel thing happened here on Sanibel. In fact, it happened twice within a 48-hour timespan.

On Nov. 24, a male suspect was apprehended after he reportedly attempted to enter and burglarize an occupied home on East Gulf Drive. While police caught the man before he could burglarize the condominium, he had already burglarized an automobile on the same property earlier in the day, officials say.

Then, on the morning of Nov. 26, an unknown man entered a home on Periwinkle Way. According to the police report, the perpetrator entered the residence through an unlocked bedroom sliding glass door. Unlike the first incident, the would-be burglar got away.

What has the Sanibel Police Department most upset over this type of criminal activity, which — as most islanders can attest — simply doesn’t happen here on the islands, is the fact that the suspect captured in last Monday’s incident has a long history of run-ins with the law. Those type of criminals don’t make a habit of focusing their felonious scenarios on Sanibel. At least they never used to.

According to statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s CIUS (Crimes In the United States) report, Sanibel has an exceptionally low crime rate. Last year, there were 99 property crimes, 73 incidents of larceny/theft and only 24 burglaries. By way of comparison, the city of Starke, Fla. (located in Bradford County in northern Florida) — whose population is almost identical to Sanibel — reported 272 property crimes, 233 incidents of larceny/theft and 15 burglaries.

True, Starke had fewer burglaries than Sanibel in 2007, but it also had 44 incidents of violent crime, 36 aggravated assaults and seven robberies. In those same categories, Sanibel had none.

If you look back through the first seven years of this century, this island has had zero or very few criminal incidents. Save for an unusually high 60 burglaries in 2005, Sanibel has had no more than 36 cases in a single year. Since 2001, only a single robbery (in 2003) has been committed. Motor vehicle thefts have never topped six in any year, and there has never been

an arson.

All in all, Sanibel is a very safe community to live in.

However, we must rely not only on our Sanibel Police Department to keep criminal activity at bay, but on ourselves. Thanks to some quick thinking and keen observations from nearby neighbors, both of last week’s incidents were responded to by law enforcement personnel within minutes.

We should all be diligent in our effort to keep our island paradise a safe haven for all of us who live here, and for all of those who visit. Don’t allow yourself to become a target of opportunity. Doing simple things like locking our doors and windows when we’re not home, and when we are home at night, will go a long way towards ensuring incidents like last week don’t become more frequent. When you are going away, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your property. It’s a simple favor to ask, and one that you won’t mind returning as well.

Sanibel is, and will remain, a very safe community to live in. But it is up to all of us to help keep it that way.

— Reporter editorial