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Violent crimes down in Cape, Lee County

By Staff | Jul 30, 2011

Violent crimes in Cape Coral and Lee County were down overall for the first half of this year as compared to the first six months of 2010.

The Cape Coral Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office released their semi-annual crime reports Friday, along with other law enforcement agencies. The reports are used to compare crime statewide and nationwide.

Lt. Tony Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape police, reported an 18 percent decrease in violent crimes this year compared to last year’s figures. Violent crimes include homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and sex offenses.

“The Cape Coral Police Department is pleased to see the double digit drop,” he wrote in a prepared statement. “Our partnership with our community coupled with our policing efforts is paying dividends in that arena.”

There was one homicide reported in the Cape for the first half of 2011 and two reported during the same time last year, a 50 percent decrease. On sex offenses, six were reported this year versus 16 in 2010, a 57 percent drop.

Robberies also decreased in the Cape, from 38 reported during the first half of 2010 to 26 this year – 32 percent. Aggravated assaults experienced the smallest change – 98 last year compared to 94 this year, a 4 percent drop.

Lee County also saw a decrease in violent crimes in the six-month report.

The LCSO reported that there were 602 violent crimes during the first half of the year compared to 704 last year, a 14 percent drop. There were seven murders reported in the first six months of 2010 versus five for this year.

There were 85 forced sex crimes for the first half of 2011 compared to 101 last year, a decrease of 16 percent. Aggravated assaults and stalking incidents dipped 16 percent, from 406 reported in 2010 to 343 this year.

Robberies had the smallest change. There were 169 reported in the first six months of this year compared to 190 reported in 2010, an 11 percent drop.

“That’s excellent news since it shows the continuing downward trend in violent crimes since 2008,” Sheriff Mike Scott wrote in a statement.

While the Cape and Lee County saw a drop in violent crimes, overall crime increased in the first half of 2011 in comparison to last year. The CCPD had 5,631 total offenses this year versus 5,546 last year, a 2 percent jump.

From year to year, the number of total offenses in Lee County rose by 6 percent – 1,986 offenses in 2010 and 2,106 in 2011, the LCSO reported.

The rise in overall crime is due to increases in non-violent crimes. Thefts, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts are included in the non-violent category.

There were 1,260 larcenies reported in the Cape during the first half of 2010 compared to 1,422 so far this year, a 13 percent increase.

“This is due in large part to a spike in metal theft and shoplifting complaints,” Sizemore wrote.

“With the formation of a multi-agency task force to combat the theft and dealing of metal beginning to show promise, we believe that those numbers will be positively impacted across Southwest Florida,” he added.

Despite the upward trend, motor vehicle thefts and burglaries dropped.

In the Cape, burglaries declined by 1 percent from last year to this year from January through June – 512 to 507. There were 62 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2010 compared to 50 for this year, a 19 percent drop.

The LCSO reported that there were 4,842 non-violent offenses during the first six months of 2010 to 5,029 offenses this year – 4 percent hike.

In Lee County, the biggest increase was thefts over $200.

There were 1,625 reported last year as compared to 1,879 this year, a 16 percent increase. Non-residential burglaries rose by 5 percent; residential jumped by 2 percent.

Reported thefts under $50 increased by 5 percent countywide this year.

The largest decrease in non-violent crimes was for motor vehicle thefts. In the first half of 2010, there were 307 incidents reported compared to 219 incidents reported during the first six months of 2011, a 29 percent drop.

The LCSO noted that thefts from motor vehicles are up though this year.

“The biggest deterrent to thefts from vehicles is to simply lock your car, truck or van,” officials wrote in the statement. “Deputies find most of these cases are the result of easy access to the interior.”

The next step is to remove valuables – wallets, purses, loose change, cell phones, laptops, GPS devices – from the vehicle.

“Remember the crime prevention message, ‘Move It or Lose It,'” officials wrote, adding that bicycle owners should always use a lock if storing a bike outside or put it in a garage or shed. “If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.”

The semi-annual and annual uniform crime reports are filed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and are used to determined the crime rate.