MANATEE - The number of homicides in Manatee County skyrocketed in the first six months of this year compared to same period in 2008, but overall, crime dropped by almost 15 percent, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The uniform crime report showed that between January and June, homicides were up by 325 percent - from 4 in the first six months of 2008 to 17 in the first six months of this year - and aggravated assaults, which include forcible sodomy and fondling, were up by 2.7 percent.
The numbers of crimes in the other five categories measured - forcible rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and motor theft - were down countywide, according to the statistics.
The 14.7 percent decline countywide was driven by drops in in large swaths of the county, including unincorporated Manatee and city of Anna Maria, 14.6 percent; city of Bradenton, 10.6 percent;; and city of Palmetto, 39.6 percent.
Crime was up in Bradenton Beach, 90.6 percent; Holmes Beach, 10 percent; and Longboat Key, 13.3 percent.
Overall, there were 7,943 crimes reported in Manatee County in the first six months of this year, compared to 8,786 crimes in the first half of 2008.
In Sarasota County, crime was down by 7.6 percent. The number of homicides and aggravated assaults were up, but all other categories were down.
Statewide, crime was down 7.9 percent in the first half of this year, according to the FDLE.