TAMPA — Crime dropped 7 percent last year in unincorporated Hillsborough County, according to sheriff's data released Friday.
The dip fits in with the larger picture. Reported crime has been steadily decreasing in Hillsborough County since 2004, with an overall drop of about 48 percent in the past two decades.
Last year, the largest decrease in the county was in reported burglaries.
There were 4,143 last year, compared with 5,104 in 2011.
That's a 19 percent drop, and it contributed to the overall 40 percent decline in burglaries over the past five years.
Col. Donna Lusczynski attributes the decrease in burglaries to several factors.
Unlike violent crime, which can be emotional and unpredictable, property crimes can be easily monitored for trends.
The majority of break-ins are typically committed by a small group of people, Lusczynski said.
So deputies use "intelligence-led policing" to map reported burglaries and look for geographic trends.
District commanders can move deputies to hot spots to make arrests.
Then the Sheriff's Office works with prosecutors to pursue hefty sentences so that the offenders are off the streets.
"When he is in jail, we're stopping additional crimes from occurring," Lusczynski said.
In 2012, the number of murders remained the same as in the previous year (28), and rapes, robberies, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts all declined slightly, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Aggravated assaults were up 5 percent, to 1,513, and overall violent crimes were up 1 percent, to 2,152.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.