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Date of Issue: July 05, 2007

State: Decrease in crime in Bradenton Beach

State statistics showed a 7.4 percent decrease in serious crime - but also the Island’s only murder - in Bradenton Beach last year.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the governor’s office released the 2006 crime statistics June 26, providing details on index crimes - murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

For Anna Maria Island, the state statistics showed 87 index crimes in Bradenton Beach, down 7.4 percent from 2005, and 176 index crimes in Holmes Beach, up 4.1 percent from 2005.

In smaller communities, “seven or eight crimes can make a difference,” said Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson. While the percentage increase was 4.1 percent in Holmes Beach, the number of crimes went up from 169 to 176. And in 2005, Holmes Beach reported a 23.2 percent decrease in index crimes, from 220 in 2004 to 169 in 2005.

“We’ve always had very few violent crimes,” Stephenson said. “But with migratory crimes, you might have a lot one month and none the next month. It varies.”

The state report did not break out statistics for Anna Maria city, which contracts with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement. The sheriff’s office reported 13,741 index crimes, an increase of 8.2 percent.

For Longboat Key, which is in both Sarasota and Manatee counties, the report showed 96 index crimes, down 4 percent from 2005.

The statistics are based on reports filed by local law enforcement agencies with the state.

The Holmes Beach Police Department reported two robberies, 10 aggravated assaults, 30 burglaries, 125 acts of larceny and nine vehicle thefts in 2006.

The Bradenton Beach Police Department reported two robberies, five aggravated assaults, 11 burglaries, 63 acts of larceny, five vehicle thefts and one murder last year. The murder took place last August near Coquina Beach when Orland Hanks used his .38 caliber gun to first shoot ex-girlfriend Michele Smith and then himself.

Longboat Key’s police department reported one aggravated assault, 14 burglaries and 81 larcenies.

The sheriff’s office, for 2006, reported 14 murders, 91 forcible rapes, 443 robberies, 1,846 aggravated assaults, 2,634 burglaries, 7,874 acts of larceny and 839 vehicle thefts.

In a review of arrests, MCSO made 14,580 arrests, including 1,463 juveniles. Holmes Beach Police Department made 174 arrests, including 27 juveniles, and Bradenton Beach made 116 arrests, including four juveniles.

For the state, the index crime rate reached a 36-year low and dropped 1 percent from 2005 to 2006.

“Florida’s history of being tough on violent crime is serving the people of Florida well,” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a news release. “Without a doubt, ensuring the safety of the people of Florida is government’s most important role, and I am committed to doing everything possible to make our neighborhoods safer.”

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who was in Bradenton last week to dedicate a new Seniors vs. Crime Center, said he was encouraged by the decrease in the overall crime rate in the state, but concerned about increases in drug-related crime and gun violence.

The number of non-violent crimes decreased in Florida, while the number of violent crimes went up .5 percent.