TAMPA — A rise in the number of burglaries and thefts pushed the rate of lawlessness up 1.6 percent statewide for the first half of 2008 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's semiannual crime report.
Despite 27 counties — including Hillsborough — reporting a decrease in crime, there were about 3,000 more burglaries and 9,000 more thefts in the first six months in Florida. Most other crimes have gone down.
Hillsborough crime went down 3.5 percent with big decreases in robbery, aggravated assault, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
Murders, forcible rapes and burglaries all increased slightly, but FDLE spokesperson Heather Smith cautions that minor increases may not always reflect a trend.
"You can't always tell, if the numbers are small," Smith said. A jump from one robbery to three may seem substantial in percentages but is relatively small on the larger scale, she explained.
Tampa's crime is down 12 percent in 2008, said the report, and police Chief Steve Hogue said it's part of the city's 40 percent decrease over the past four years.
"Police are only as good as the citizens who help them," Hogue said. "So we worked really hard in fostering a community relationship."
Pasco County crime went up 0.2 percent between January and June, with small increases in murder and larceny and decreases in every other major category.
Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, said the department uses the numbers to figure out where they need to focus more attention in the coming year.
"If you look at the crime increase in relation to our population increase, it's relatively small," Doll said.
The sheriff is also encouraged by the decreases because they have not hired any new deputies in the coming year to match the population boom, he explained.
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3373.