Crime rate in Manatee drops 3.6 percent in 2013

Herald staff writersApril 24, 2014 

MANATEE -- The crime rate in Manatee County dropped 3.6 percent last year, state officials announced Wednesday.

Last year in Manatee County there were 12,576 "index crimes" monitored by the FBI: murders, forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts.

That's down from 12,909 in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

There were 3,716.7 crimes

committed per 100,000 population.

Murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and larcenies were down. Forcible rapes and motor vehicle thefts were up.

The statewide crime rate dropped 4.7 percent last year. In Sarasota County, it dropped 9.1 percent.

The Manatee crime drop was experienced by residents in most areas of the county -- from 0.7 percent in Bradenton to 36.1 percent in Longboat Key.

"Crime's been going down in the city for years now, but there's still more work to do," said Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski. Radzilowski said crime in Bradenton is "still too high."

"We're big on crime analysis and trying to predict where crime is going to occur," said Radzilowski. "Our goal is crime prevention. We police very heavily in neighborhoods."

Palmetto was the exception in Manatee County with the crime rate increasing 16.8 percent.

Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells attributed most of Palmetto's crime spike to larceny arrests from the Walmart Supercenter, 508 10th St. E.

"Walmart took a stronger stance in increasing loss prevention," said Wells.

Walmart beefed up its loss prevention personnel, which caused his department to make more larceny arrests, Wells said.

"We had 79 more arrests for 2013 than in 2012, all from Walmart trying to cut down on retail theft," Wells said, adding the store is a good partner. "Obviously when you have 79 more arrests from one location, it's going to increase our numbers."

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Palmetto Police Department made 272 larceny arrests in 2012 compared with 398 larceny arrests in 2013.

Wells said his department has been trying to be more proactive to keep thefts from happening.

"We continue to do well with trying to decrease burglaries and robberies," Wells said. "We just continue to be proactive in those areas and try to have the officers visible and keep them in the areas where robberies have been more prevalent."

Wells noted the Palmetto Police Department's clearance rate is one of the highest in the county.

In unincorporated Manatee and in the city of Anna Maria, where the Manatee County Sheriff's Office has jurisdiction, the crime rate dropped 4.5 percent.

The crime decline continues a trend in Manatee County. From 2011 to 2012, the crime rate dropped 15.7 percent, according to FDLE.

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