Palm Beach County reports drop in overall crime in first half of 2011

Palm Beach County saw an overall decrease in crime for the first half of this year, according to statistics released on Friday.

The county's total reported crime was down 3 percent for the first half of this year, compared to the same period of 2010, according to semiannual figures released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was down 14 percent when compared with the same period in 2009.

Palm Beach County mirrored statewide figures in having crime drop in every category except rape. The biggest drop in violent crime in the county was robberies, down nearly 19 percent, followed by murder, down about 18 percent. The county also saw slight decreases in burglary, aggravated assault, larceny and vehicle theft.

Police agencies credit the declines to good law enforcement and vigilant residents who report crimes.

"The general crime trend over the past few years has been downward," Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander wrote in a blog entry about the semiannual figures. "We have a very safe city."

A significant increase in vehicle and home burglaries occurred in Boca Raton in recent months, resulting in several arrests, Alexander said. He reminded residents to report suspicious activity, one of the best ways to curb burglaries.

Rape statistics were up across South Florida and statewide. Rape cases rose nearly 15 percent in Broward, nearly 5 percent in Palm Beach County, and 1 percent statewide.

The economy "isn't the cause, but it certainly contributes. It puts more pressure on families," said Mary Riedel, president and CEO of Women in Distress of Broward County, a shelter and advocacy group.

Although crime has dropped statewide, Broward County suffered an overall 2 percent increase for the first six months of this year, the FDLE statistics show.

Some violent crimes in Broward were down: the largest drop was murder, down 22 percent, followed by aggravated battery, at 8 percent. Broward's rise in overall crime marks the first time in four years that the county reported an increase during its semiannual reporting period.


Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
 


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