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HBPD reports crime numbers fall, arrests increase in 2013

By Merab-Michal Favorite, Islander Reporter

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The Holmes Beach Police Department reported fewer crimes and an increase in arrests in 2013, according to annual crime index statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The number of crimes reported went down 23.7 percent from 2012, from 152 to 116.

The number of reported crimes that were considered violent fell 44.4 percent from 20 to 11.

There were two forcible rapes that occurred in the city in 2013, which is very rare Holmes Beach, according to the reports.

HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer looked back as far as 2007 and couldn’t find any record of a sexual battery occurring in the areas.

“We do not have many sexual batteries in Holmes Beach,” Tokajer said. “This is almost unheard of. In one situation, the two people were working together and the other was a date-like setting, but the couple had just met.”

There were no arrests made in the reported sexual assaults.

In the crime statistics, HBPD reported that the number of arrests increased by 45.5 percent, from 121 to 176.

Also, the number of traffic tickets increased 115 percent, with HBPD officers issuing 378 in 2012 compared to a 816 in 2013.

Tokajer said the increase in tickets was due to the city’s participation in the Click it or Ticket campaign, which takes place across the country.

He said the decrease in crime was due to the proactive approach of his staff.

“The officers are doing a great job,” Tokajer said. “People call in everyday complimenting our presence. It’s just about keeping an eye on the community.”

The statistics showed for 2013 an increase in the number of vehicle thefts, from one in 2012 to five in 2013, an increase of 500 percent.

Tokajer said the vehicles stolen had been left unlocked with keys in the ignition and one was a golf cart. An exception was a car reported stolen by a family member.

In order to prevent vehicles from being broken into or stolen, Tokajer recommends drivers lock their cars, hide valuables and bring the keys with them when they leave the vehicle.

“Basically anything that would be enticing, like a computer, cell phone or purse, you should take with you, leave at home or discretely hide in the car somewhere,” he said. “Criminals are looking for an easy way to steal, they don’t want to have to work for what they get. They are looking in cars to see if they were left unlocked.”

He also said beachgoers should put any valuables into their trunk before they arrive at the beach because people could be watching the parking lot.

Overall, Tokajer was proud of the results.

“It’s what I like to see, I want crime going down and arrests going up and that’s what happened this year,” he said.

Tokajer took over as the chief of police for HBPD in April 2013.

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