Criminal activity rose substantially in the Village in 2011, notching an overall increase of 14.1 percent.
Statistics in the 2011 Annual Report released by the Pinecrest Police Department showed that there were a total of 679 incidents of Part One Crime reported to Village police last year, as opposed 595 in 2010.
The report showed that significant increases were recorded in aggravated assault, larceny and burglary. On the positive side of the ledger, there were no sex offenses committed in the Village last year, robberies remained at the same level as 2010 and there were fewer incidents of auto theft.
Police chief John Hohensee, who has announced that he is retiring in April, downplayed the statistical increase in Village crime.
“When compared to the preceding nine-year average, 2011 had 39 fewer incidents or a 5.4 percent lower crime rate,” Hohensee said. “Our overall crime rate is extremely low, especially given that we exist in a major metropolitan area with all the normal ills such population centers engender.”
Hohensee noted that last year’s upward crime trend was led by aggravated assaults, up 56 percent, but driven primarily by burglaries and car break-ins.
“We have this troubling trend of people being lax about securing their vehicles,” said Hohensee. “About 70 percent of our car breaks are actually cases where the cars weren’t locked. To add to the incentive for the criminals, many of the cars had valuables in plain sight, so it was simply a matter of opening the door and snatching whatever is at hand.”
Hohensee said his department has tried on several occasions to educate residents about the importance of locking their vehicles while shopping or out for an evening of dining and entertainment, but to no avail.
“We also had a spike in residential burglaries,” he said. “We’re not unique in that respect; I believe our neighboring communities had similar experiences.”
Burglaries in Pinecrest rose from 80 reported incidents in 2010 to 97 in 2011. However, there were no homicides or sex offenses, and only seven incidents of robbery, the same number as in 2010.
Aggravated assault spiked to 14 incidents, five more than in the previous year, while larceny soared from 474 incidents in 2010 to 542 incidents reported last year. One case of arson was recorded in the Village in 2011 and there were 18 cases of auto theft, one less than in 2010.
Hohensee noted in the annual report that 2011 saw many positive developments for his department, including the conclusion of several complex embezzlement cases, the closing of a “grow house” in Pinecrest that resulted in the disruption of the flow of illegal drugs to area schools; and there was a redoubled effort to remove drunk drivers from the streets resulting in a 70 percent increase in DUI arrests.
The police chief said he plans to retire in April and, with his wife, Joan, will move to North-Central Florida where they have bought a home, and work on their goal of visiting every one of the national parks in the United States.
Good luck, John, and thank you for a job well done!