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Cape crime rate drops

By Staff | Apr 8, 2010

Crime dropped across the board in Cape Coral in 2009 with the number of reported violent and non-violent offenses all lower than the 2008 figures.
The city’s overall crime rate declined in 2009 by 14.3 percent compared to the year before, according to the state’s Annual Uniform Crime Report that was released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The overall crime rate dropped in the Cape by 9.9 percent from 2007 to 2008.
In 2009, the total number of reported offenses was 4,565, a 15.8 percent drop from the 5,424 offenses reported in 2008. The report states that the total number of offenses declined by only 9.2 percent from 2007 to 2008.
“One of our core responsibilities is to provide a safe community for our residents to work and live in,” Cape Coral Police Chief Rob Petrovich said Thursday. “It’s been a good year.”
In terms of violent crimes, the city recorded three murders, 16 rapes, 92 robberies and 221 aggravated assaults in 2009. In 2008, there were seven murders, 31 rapes, 93 robberies and 232 aggravated assaults reported.
For non-violent crimes, there were 1,267 burglaries, 2,792 larcenies and 174 motor vehicle thefts reported in 2009, according to the report. The city saw 1,353 burglaries, 3,485 larcenies and 223 motor vehicle thefts during 2008.
Petrovich attributed the drop in crime to a myriad of reasons. He called the department a “flagship agency” that always strives to improve upon what it does. Beyond that, resources are continually redirected as areas experience an increase in criminal activity or trends.
“We’re a well equipped and well trained department, professionally,” he said. “I think that always leads to success.”
Petrovich added that having a supportive community also helps.
“When we go to a scene, we pretty much rely on witnesses and victim support,” he said. “We have a citizenry here in the community, with only a few exceptions, that is very supportive and will cooperate with us.”
According to the report, the number of arrests in the Cape for forcible sex offenses, aggravated assault, larceny, manslaughter, embezzlement, drugs, DUI, fraud and liquor law violations dropped from 2008 to 2009. Arrests for bribery, stolen property, gambling, extortion and blackmail did not change.
From 2008 to 2009, there was an uptick in the number of arrests for murder, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, kidnap, abduction, arson, simple assault, counterfeit, forgery, intimidation, prostitution, vandalism, destruction, weapons violation and non-forcible sex offenses in the city.
Overall, arrests increased from 5,208 in 2008 to 5,422 in 2009.
According to Petrovich, one could have anticipated an increase in criminal activity because of the current economic situation. But, he added, that is not what happened in the Cape and elsewhere.
“People are out of work, they’re struggling, they don’t have food. It could cause people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do,” Petrovich said. “And for some reason, it has not.”
“It’s actually been a positive trend throughout the country, and actually a lot of people are scratching their head,” he said.
The state’s overall index crime rate reached a 39-year low, declining by 6.4 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, according to a prepared statement from the FDLE. Statewide the number of violent crimes dropped by 10 percent and the number of non-violent crimes dropped by 6.2 percent from 2009 to 2008.
“The significant decline in Florida’s crime rate represents the lowest rate in 39 years and is an encouraging indicator that our crime prevention efforts are working,” Gov. Charlie Christ said in a prepared statement. “I applaud the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and law enforcement officers statewide for
their outstanding work, making FLorida safer for residents and visitors.”
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum echoed that in the statement.
“With crime in Florida at the lowest rate in 39 years, we are seeing our state truly become a safer place for our children, our families and our neighborhoods,” he said. “From the new cybercrime laws to our anti-gang
efforts, Florida law enforcement and prosecutors have new tools to help protect our state, and I am proud of the crucial role the Attorney General’s Office has played in these efforts.”
According to the report, Lee County’s overall crime rate dropped in 2009 by 13.6 percent compared to 2008. The total number of reported offenses was 20,501, a 14.7 percent dip from the 24,046 offenses seen the year before. The number of arrests dropped from 35,209 in 2008 to 29,724 in 2009.
Lee County ranked 13th statewide for the largest decline in crime in 2009.