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Crime rate on Sanibel escalates 17 percent

By Staff | Aug 19, 2009

On Tuesday, Sanibel Chief of Police Bill Tomlinson delivered the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) during the City Council session, and indicated that the overall crime rate on the island increased by more than 17 percent during the first half of 2009 over the same period last year.

“The overall crime statistic related to the total index crimes committed on Sanibel increased by 17.2 percent, from 58 crimes committed in the first half of 2008 to 68 crimes committed in the first half of 2009,” said Tomlinson.

According to the chief, the categories which saw an increase in crimes:

Theft From Motor Vehicle – 14 in 2008; 27 in 2009

Theft From Buildings – 14 in 2008; 19 in 2009

Bicycle Theft – 3 in 2008; 4 in 2009

However, there were several notable decreases in crimes stated within the UCR, including:

Burglary – 11 in 2008; 9 in 2009

Motor Vehicle Theft – 3 in 2008; 2 in 2009

Shoplifting – 3 in 2008; 1 in 2009

All Other Theft – 8 in 2008; 5 in 2009

Tomlinson also took time to praise his department for having a dramatic increase in the number of arrests made during the first half of 2009 (154), up from last year’s 61 arrests. Of the statistics reported, larceny arrests increased from one in 2008 to nine in 2009; drug offense arrests increased from six in 2008 to 11 in 2009; miscellaneous crime arrests increased from 36 in 2008 to 108 in 2009.

“The clearance rate is also tracked through the UCR and is a measure of crimes that are solved through investigation and arrests,” the chief added. “The clearance rate for Sanibel was up 166 percent from three in 2008 to eight in 2009, respective time periods measured.”

“The police department has been very responsive in the clearance of crimes, to see those responsible brought to justice,” said Tomlinson.

In response to the ongoing analysis of crime occurring on Sanibel, the police department has increased patrols at high crime areas where repeat thefts have occurred. Improved technology, thorough investigations and directed patrols are tools that will enhance crime prevention efforts and continue to increase the clearance crime rate, Tomlinson’s report concluded.

According to Judie Zimomra, one of the target areas for criminal activity are the island’s beach parking lots. Several of the lots have been installed with surveillance cameras, which have proved very successful so far.

“We employ (security cameras) in areas of highest crime,” she noted, “and pretty soon, they become areas of lowest crime.”

“During these desperate times, temptation becomes greater than ever,” said Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane. “As a community, we have to be as proactive as possible. We have to keep our eyes wide open.”

The chief also issued the following crime prevention tips to Sanibel residents:

Lock all doors and windows.

Engrave valuable household items with specific identification and video or photos.

Keep bushes and trees trimmed.

Never hide keys outside your home.

Let a neighbor know when you are out of town and let them know who should and should not be at your home when you are gone.

Install and maintain good lighting; use timers to turn lights on and off.

Install deadbolt locks, solid doors, security hinges and striker plates.

Secure glass sliding doors with pins.

Look around as you approach your driveway.

Close your overhead garage door before exiting your vehicle.

Never open your door to a stranger. If they claim to be representing a business, call to verify that they do in fact work for that business. Have them produce identification.

Make sure your alarm system is on when you are home, or away from home.

Organize a neighborhood watch program, if there is not one in place.

Contact Sanibel Police Department for dark house/vacation checks.

If you observe any suspicious activity at your home or your neighbor’s home, immediately contact the Sanibel Police Department at 472-3111.