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Report shows crime rate hike in county

By Staff | May 1, 2012

While the number of crimes and the crime rate in Florida dropped in 2011, Lee County saw increases in both areas as compared to the previous year.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Monday the results of the Annual Uniform Crime Report. Statewide, the total number of crimes decreased from 770,518 in 2010 to 769,480 last year, a 0.1 percent drop.

The 2011 crime rate for Florida was 4,070.2, a 0.8 percent decrease. The population and number of reported crimes are used to calculate the rate.

“Overall, the 2011 Uniform Crime Report is good news,” FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a prepared statement. “Since FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971, citizens are safer today than any time in the last four decades.”

In Lee County, however, the overall numbers were not as positive.

According to the report, there were 19,711 crimes reported in 2011 as compared to 18,535 the year before – a 6.3 percent increase. The crime rate for Lee increased 4.3 percent last year, from 3,021.0 to 3,152.2.

Countywide, the number of murders, burglaries and larcenies jumped year over year. There were 38 murders in 2011, compared to 27 the prior year. Burglaries rose by 7.62 percent, and larcenies increased by 9.92 percent.

Forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults and motor vehicle thefts in Lee County dipped in 2011. There were two fewer robberies, while rapes and vehicle thefts saw the biggest change – 21.32 percent and 12.51 percent.

In Florida, violent crimes dropped 3.7 percent, with murders down 0.2 percent, forcible sex offenses dipping 0.1 percent and robberies down 1.8 percent. Aggravated assaults saw the biggest decrease – 5 percent.

Non-violent crimes, however, jumped statewide by 0.4 percent. Both burglaries and larcenies rose by 0.7 percent, while motor vehicle thefts dropped by 4.4 percent as compared to 2010, according to the report.

“While it is good news that Florida’s crime rate is at a 41-year low, we must continue to remember that each crime represented a victim whose rights must be protected,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement released on Monday.

In January, local law enforcement agencies released their numbers.

The Cape Coral Police Department reported a decline in violent crimes last year, but a higher overall crime rate due to a spike in non-violent crimes and a decrease in the city’s population. The rate rose 10.1 percent to 2,717.3.

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, CCPD 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.

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.

Three homicides were reported last year and in 2010.

Violent crimes within unincorporated Lee County dropped 11 percent as compared to 2010, according to Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials.

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

While Cape Coral and unincorporated Lee County experienced a mix of rises and falls 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 statement at the time 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 stated. “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.

In 2011, 952,932 people were arrested in Florida and 87,031 juveniles. As for the adults, about 76 percent were men and 24 percent were women.