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Cape crime down 9.4 percent in ’08

By Staff | May 6, 2009

Overall crime in Cape Coral dropped 9.4 percent in 2008, according to a report released Tuesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
There were 5,417 total index crimes — defined as murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft — in the Cape, down from 5,976 reported in 2007.
The numbers rank Cape Coral as the second safest city in Florida among municipalities with populations of 150,000 or more. Only Port St. Lucie was deemed safer.
Though Cape Coral Police Chief Rob Petrovich’s staff was reduced by 29 sworn officers last year, he said the positions did not come from first response units, aiding the lower crime statistics.
“We didn’t touch our first responder positions,” he said.
While the numbers are positive, Petrovich warned against the possibility of further cuts, and said they could reduce the effectiveness of the department.
The city is in the process of cutting at least $10 million from the budget in anticipation of an estimated 35 percent drop in property values, but most city council members have said they want to keep funding for the police and fire departments stagnant.
“When you keep on cutting, pretty soon you’re down to grizzle and bone,” Petrovich said, adding that Cape police are receiving more calls for service, though not all calls lead to crimes or arrests.
Motor vehicle thefts showed the largest decrease, falling 27 percent from 2007. Forcible sex offenses and aggravated assaults also dropped, 22 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively. Burglaries, down 8.8 percent, and larcenies, down 8.1 percent, were the only index crimes to fall less than 10 percent.
Murder was the only index crime to increase. There were seven murders in the Cape in 2008, and five murders in 2007.