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Violent crimes down in Tampa; state rate drops

The city and county did, however, see an increase in non-violent crimes, such as burglary, larceny and vehicle theft.

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 17, 2003

TAMPA -- Fewer violent crimes were committed in the city of Tampa last year, but property crimes -- such as burglary, larceny and vehicle theft -- increased, according to statistics released Wednesday.

Overall, the per capita crime rate in Tampa stayed the same from 2001 to 2002, with 113 crimes committed per 1,000 people.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Katie Hughes said violent crimes were down 4.9 percent, while non-violent crimes were up 3 percent.

"I don't think the annual crime report in and of itself is a tell-all story," Hughes said. "It's a good baseline."

The statistics are part of an annual report released Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The state's crime rate fell in 2002, hitting a 30-year low, said Tim Moore, head of the FDLE. Florida's crime rate in general has been falling in recent years.

"I remember in the 1990s, we had double-digit increases in our crime rate," Moore said.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office had a 2.1 percent increase in crimes per 1,000 residents in the unincorporated part of the county, said Maj. Carl Hawkins, who is in charge of the agency's crime mapping and planning.

There were about 53 crimes committed per 1,000 people in the county, he said.

There were 569 more burglaries and 719 more larcenies in 2002 than the previous year -- and the increase in those crimes affected the overall rate.

"Two-thirds of our increase is related to those types of crimes," he said.

Florida's overall crime rate dropped 3.3 percent between 2001 and 2002, but the number of murders went up slightly. One in four violent crimes was the result of domestic violence, Moore said.

On average, eight out of 1,000 people in Florida were victims of a violent crime in 2002, according to the FDLE.

The agency estimates that a crime occurs in Florida every 35 seconds.

A violent crime occurs somewhere in the state about every four minutes.

"We still have too many victims," Moore said.

-- Times Staff Writer Julie Hauserman contributed to this report.

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