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Crime stats up, but rate slows

Crime in Hernando County grew by a slower rate in the first six months of 2002 than it did during the same period in the two prior years, according to figures released Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The FDLE semiannual report showed that Hernando experienced 2.5 percent more crime between January and June of this year than in the same period of 2001. That year, the percent change from the prior year was 6.9 percent. The figure was 16.8 percent in 2000, for the same period.

"We are never pleased with an increase in crime," said Michael Hensley, chief deputy with the Sheriff's Office. However, he said, "We are pleased with the trends."

Of the 2,936 crimes reported during the period, 2,632 occurred in the sheriff's jurisdiction, and the rest were handled by the Brooksville Police Department.

The two law enforcement departments solved 29.6 percent of crimes reported in the first six months of this year, as opposed to 25.7 percent of the 2,864 crimes reported in the same six-month period in 2001, according to the report.

STATE FIGURES: Number of crimes edged up a bit, but violent crime is down. METRO & STATE

The statistics are broken down into seven categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

Only robbery and burglary showed any marked increase. Robbery climbed 31 percent, from 35 cases in the first six months of 2001 to 46 during the same period this year. Burglary rose by nearly 12 percent, from 668 last year to 745 in 2002.

Hensley said he was unsure what accounted for the increase in robbery and burglary, but noted the Sheriff's Office is dedicated to ensuring that the overall slowing in crime continues.

"We are going to make every effort to make sure it continues in that direction," Hensley said.

_ Will Van Sant covers Hernando County government and can be reached at 754-6127. Send e-mail to vansantsptimes.com.

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