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Crime down in Williston

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Here’s something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: Crime has taken a rest in Levy County in the first six months of 2012 according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s latest semi-annual report.

The report covers Jan. 1 to June 30 for seven violent and property crimes: murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

In all, Levy County had 664 incidents reported in the seven categories tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and their state counterpart, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That is a decrease of 21.7 from 2011 when 848 incidents were reported.

Almost every category showed a decrease in incidents in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, including:

• zero murders;

• nine robberies, down from 10;

• 46 aggravated assaults, down from 81; 

• 211 burglaries down from 256;

• 360 larcenies, down from 466; and

• 25 motor vehicle thefts, down from 28.

The one area showing an increase — forcible rape, is up from 6 in 2011 to 13 in 2012.

The drop in the crime rate was also accompanied by a drop in the number of arrests in the first six months of this year compared to the same time in 2011. Levy County had 1,028 arrests, compared to 1,291 in 2011. Of that total 1,028 individuals arrested, 977 were adults and 51 were juveniles. Nine people were arrested for robbery, 20 for aggravated assault, 33 for burglary, 79 for larceny, 7 for motor vehicle theft, 1 for kidnapping, 96 for simple assault, 82 for drugs, 2 for bribery, 29 for fraud, 7 for counterfeiting/forgery, four for intimidation, three for non-forcible sex offenses, four for stolen property, 55 for DUI, seven for vandalism, five for weapons violations, 7 for liquor law violations and 578 for miscellaneous crimes.

While Levy County had one arrest each for murder and manslaughter at the same time last year, there were none this year. There also were no arrests for forcible sex offenses, despite the uptick in those crimes this year.

The report, released by the FDLE earlier this month, showed the state crime rate dropped 3.8 percent for the first half of 2012. This follows a 2 percent drop in 2011, 4.8 percent drop in 2010 and 7.9 percent drop in 2009. The last time the state had an increase in crime was 2008 when it rose 1.6 percent.

Crime was also down in every municipality in the county — except one, Cedar Key, which has bolstered its enforcement in recent years patrolling the island by car, bicycle, golf cart and horse. 

In unincorporated Levy County, the area covered by the Levy County Sheriff’s Office, there were 390 incidents in the seven reported categories which included 13 forcible rapes, 3 robberies, 38 aggravated assaults, 102 burglaries, 214 cases of larceny and 20 motor vehicle thefts.

Williston reported four robberies, six aggravated assaults, seven burglaries, 35 larcenies and three motor vehicle thefts in the first six months of the year, giving it 55 incidents of crime, but a 14.1 percent drop in the first six months of the year.

Williston PD reported arresting 51 people in the first six months of the year, 49 adults and two juveniles. There were no arrests for murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, bribery, or forcible sex offenses. But one person was arrested for robbery, two for aggravated assault, five for burglary, seven for larceny, 2 for motor vehicle theft, four for simple assault, six for drugs, three for DUI, 1 for liquor law violations and 15 on miscellaneous other charges.

Police Chief Dennis Strow gave credit to his officers for staying on top of things in Williston.

“The men,  women and volunteers deserve the credit,” Strow said.

“We have a high closure rate. That means criminals are in jail and not on the street reoffendng.

“My officers are doing a remarkable job. They are highly visible and are working diligently to maintain Williston’s quality of life,” Strow said.

 

In Chiefland, there was an 11.5 percent drop in reported crimes. The city had 169 incidents, including 2 robberies, 2 aggravated assaults, 84 burglaries, 80 cases of larceny and one motor vehicle theft.

The city also had the distinction of having the best percentage of cases cleared in the county. Chiefland solved 46.7 percent of the incidents, while Williston Police Department was a close second at 41.8 percent and the Levy County Sheriff’s Office cleared 33.1 percent, Inglis cleared 24 percent and Cedar Key cleared 4.5 percent.

Of the 22 crimes reported in the seven categories in Cedar Key, none were among the four violent crime classifications the agency tracks. Six of the incidents were burglaries and 16 were larceny incidents.

Cedar Key officers made 25 arrests — 22 of them adults and three juveniles. The other arrests were one for larceny, eight for simple assault, one for stolen property, nine for DUI and six on miscellaneous charges.

Inglis, which reported 25 crime incidents in the first six months of the yeas saw a 30.6 percent drop in its crime rate and none of the reported crimes were of a violent nature. The city had 10 burglaries, 14 larcenies and one motor vehicle theft.