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Local law enforcement agencies release crime statistics for 2011

By Staff | Jan 24, 2012

While Cape Coral saw a drop in violent crimes last year, a decrease in the population and spike in non-violent crimes led to a higher overall crime rate.

The Cape Coral Police Department, along with other local law enforcement agencies, released its Uniform Crime Reporting statistics Monday for 2011. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will review the final numbers.

Within the Cape, violent crimes dropped from 276 in 2010 to 238 last year – a decrease of 13.8 percent. Non-violent crimes rose from 3,787 in 2010 to 4,011 last year – an increase of 5.9 percent, police officials reported.

The largest decreases seen last year were over sex offenses, aggravated batteries and robberies. Sex offenses dipped 34.8 percent to 15, aggravated batteries dropped 13.8 percent to 162 and robberies hit 58 – 9.4 percent.

There were three homicides reported last year and in 2010.

“We are encouraged by the decrease in violent crimes,” Lt. Tony Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape police, wrote in a prepared statement Monday.

The largest increases were tied to larcenies and motor vehicle thefts. Last year, larcenies rose 10.6 percent to 2,869, and motor vehicle thefts jumped 5.5 percent to 115. Burglaries, however, dropped by 5.2 percent to 1,027.

A jump in thefts reported was cited for the rise in non-violent crimes.

“The largest increase was larceny, which includes shoplifting complaints, bicycle thefts, as well as theft of property from residences committed by known persons,” Sizemore stated.

The overall crime rate, which is calculated from the number of reported crimes and population, rose 10.1 percent last year. The city’s population came in at 156,369 as compared to 164,673 in 2010 – a 5 percent dip.

The 2011 crime rate is 2717.3, according to the CCPD’s statistics.

“Although there was an increase in thefts, the department is pleased with an improved case clearance rate over an already strong percentage,” he wrote.

Cape police cleared 1,141 cases last year – 26.9 percent of the total reported. The department cleared 1,061 cases, or 26.1 percent, in 2010.

Locally, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Myers Police Department also released their Uniform Crime Reporting statistics for 2011 on Monday.

Violent crimes within unincorporated Lee County dropped 11 percent as compared to 2010, according to a prepared statement from the LCSO. The county’s overall crime rate decreased 1 percent from the previous year.

It marks the fourth consecutive year that the crime rate has dropped.

“I am very encouraged that every category of violent crime is down sharply, further that the countywide crime rate is down,” Sheriff Mike Scott wrote.

Declines last year included murders by 12 percent, forced sex crimes by 24 percent, robberies by 4 percent and aggravated assaults by 11 percent.

“These numbers come on the heels of deep budget buts and reflect the hard work of the men and women at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office,” he stated. “Of course, even one crime is too many and to that end, we will continue with an aggressive sustained focus on prevention and enforcement.”

While Cape Coral and unincorporated Lee County experienced a mix of increases and decreases among crimes from year to year, the city of Fort Myers reported a drop among sex offenses only in 2011, from 65 to 62 – a 4.6 percent dip.

The Fort Myers Police Department reported in a prepared statement that overall crime rose 11.5 percent last year – an increase of 391 crimes.

“We have every available resource working to continue the downward trend – the 50 percent decrease – we’ve seen over the past decade,” Police Chief Doug Baker wrote. “Burglaries and thefts had the highest increases.”

Last year, robberies rose 11.8 percent to 170 and assaults increased 9.3 percent to 518. Murders jumped 185.7 percent, from seven in 2010 to 20.

According to the FMPD’s statistics, burglaries increased 6.2 percent to 667, thefts jumped 14.7 percent to 2,153 and auto thefts rose 2.1 percent.

Baker noted that the Fort Myers unemployment rates are higher than the state’s rate of 10 percent. The rate in ZIP code 33916 is 28.3 percent, the rate in 33905 is 18.2 percent and in 33901, it is 16.8 percent, he stated.

“I believe as the down economy continues, we are seeing people who normally wouldn’t commit crimes participating in the activity,” Baker wrote. “Police are working daily to follow trends and make arrests before more crimes are committed.”

He added that the department is participating in a countywide metal theft task force to combat theft and the illegal sale of metal locally, and officers continue efforts to cut violent crimes by removing guns from city streets.

“The men and women of the department are working hard to keep out neighborhoods and businesses safe. But we are only as good as the community allows us to be,” Baker stated. “We need citizens to protect and lock their properties and vehicles, and we need people to come forward and report suspicious activity. Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”