Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Crime rate drops in Clearwater as police target specific crimes

CLEARWATER — Crime in Clearwater dropped nearly 7 percent in the first six months of this year, according to recently released numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The decline may be attributed to the department's efforts to combat burglaries, robberies, prostitution and drugs — crimes that continue to reoccur in the city, said Clearwater police Chief Anthony Holloway.

"We target those four categories and we're seeing crime go down," he said.

For example, the number of burglaries reported in the first six months of 2012 totaled 415, compared to 383 during the same time period this year, FDLE figures show.

The department analyzes crime patterns to determine how best to use resources. Officers often park their cars to walk and chat with residents — a strategy the chief dubbed "park, walk and talk" — in areas where property crimes have been reported.

Clearwater is one of several Tampa Bay cities that experienced a drop in crime the first six months of 2013. Tampa dropped 9.3 percent, Largo 5.9 percent.

Burglaries

Although burglaries slumped in the first half of the year, Holloway said they may peak again at the end of this year due to the holidays. Residents often leave Christmas presents in their cars, attracting burglars.

And with cooler temperatures, "people tend to leave windows and doors unlocked for a longer period of time," he said.

Prostitution

To deter prostitution, police conduct undercover stings when resident complaints arise. From January through October, officers made 57 prostitution-related arrests.

Yet prostitution persists in the Gateway area east of downtown and along parts of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, the chief said. Those charged with prostitution will spend time in jail but return to the streets once they're free, Holloway said. That causes problems for undercover officers, who are now recognized by those they have just arrested.

"We know they're out because then people start calling and complaining, so then we have to figure out how to do it again," Holloway said.

Some prostitutes have stopped walking the streets, instead seeking clients through advertising websites such as backpage.com, making it harder for police to track them.

Drugs

Narcotics detectives continue to encounter synthetic marijuana in the streets, Holloway said. In July, officers converged on four stores and seized the largest haul of synthetic marijuana in the city's history — more than 18,000 packets in one store alone.

Detectives also find prescription drugs as well as some crack cocaine, heroin and most recently MDMA, a modified form of ecstasy known as "Molly."

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727)445-4157. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have lost power at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said.About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. Duke Energy is working to restore power, according to the agency. Drivers ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18
Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

LARGO — Police are searching for a person of interest in the January disappearance of a 24-year-old man.The missing man is Timothy Patrick Cullen, 24, who Largo police said was last seen Jan. 22 at his home in the 500 block of Seventh Ave NE. His veh...
Published: 05/18/18
Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

BAYONET POINT — A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated child abuse and accused of fracturing an infant’s skull, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Brandon Scott Madrishin told deputies that a 3-month-old infant ...
Published: 05/18/18
20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

When her school bus pulled up to her house that day, Ashley Bell spotted her mom’s car in the driveway and wondered why it was there. A 14-year-old latchkey kid, Bell usually got home before her mother Carolyn arrived from her job as a nurse at St. J...
Published: 05/18/18