Larcenists kept busy in Opa-locka this year while burglars stole cooper from commercial air conditioners to help raise the city’s property crime rate, despite an overall decrease in violent crimes.
Opa-locka Police Department released crime statistics showing a 1.97% slight jump. Opa-locka police attribute the increase to people reporting more crimes, 1537 offenses reported this year through September, up from 1507 reported offenses by third quarter last year.
This year decreases are seen in violent crimes. Murders down to 2 from 6 last year, violent robbery at 68, compared to 106 the year before, and a slight decrease in non-violent battery assault at 298 versus 304 in 2011. Overall, lowering the city’s violent crime rate to 37.65 incidents per 1,000 inhabitants, for an area that’s grown to16,762 residents, according to 2010 Census data. Last year’s third quarter violent crime rate was at 38.30 incidents per 1,000 inhabitants.
“We’ve shifted our strategy by making our officers more visible, roaming throughout the community,” said Opa-locka Police Chief Cheryl Cason.
The report shows a slight increase in rape, up to 7 from 5 last year, with the highest number of violent crimes committed in aggravated assault, increasing from 210 in third quarter 2011 to 246 by the same time in 2012, a 17% increase
Opa-locka police suggest if an argument gets heated, for both people to separate and call the police before the situation turns violent.
“Calling us helps prevent someone else from becoming a victim,” said Chief Cason.
Once known for the highest violent crime rate in the nation, Opa-locka is slowly changing. According to the FBI’s 2010 uniform crime reports, the 4.3 square mile city is number 4 in the state for violent crimes and number 2 in Miami-Dade County, just behind Medley.
The same report ranks Opa-locka 19 in Florida for property crimes and number 7 in the county. The city’s property crime rate sits at 54.05 incidents per 1,000 residents this year. Property crimes are up in commercial burglaries at 107 from 60 this time last year. Motor vehicle theft is down to 90, from 101 last year.
Opa-locka police initiated more measures to turn around the city’s crime history.
The department put more officers on the street, established bicycle patrols, created a sub-station in Magnolia North with dedicated officers 24 hours a day. They figured out the times and areas most likely to see robberies and increased undercover patrols that monitor activity throughout the city.
For a historical view on Opa-locka’s crime statistics, visit the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports tool kit at www.ucrdatatool.gov.