Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime Stats Took Upward Turn in '02

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime Stats Took Upward Turn in '02

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Overall crime on the Southside and in Mandarin increased 1.8 percent from 2001 to 2002, according to preliminary Jacksonville Sheriff's Office statistics.

The increase reverses an almost 1 percent drop in the police zone between Beach Boulevard and the Duval/St. Johns County line from 2000 to 2001, and was led by slight jumps in larcenies, auto theft and aggravated assaults.

It also mirrored a slight overall citywide increase in crime from 51,563 to 51,610 events, according to the Uniform Crime Report figures compiled by the Sheriff's Office.

Assistant Chief Dwain Senterfit, in charge of Police Zone 3's officers for four months, said last year's increase tallies up to 166 more incidents than the year before. That's not much considering the thousands of new homes and apartments built in the growing portions of his patrol area. But he said his officers are aware of the growing pains and continue undercover efforts to slow it down.

"Part of that I would attribute to the zone's population growth. I looked at the census data year to year, and it showed about 210,000 people," Senterfit said. "We are working on our vehicle thefts, and we have some strategies in effect as we keep our attention on truants who get in trouble out of school. Since you can write a traffic citation for leaving your keys in a car, we have written citations for people who left their keys in the car when they went in the store."

Last year's increase in crime bucked a mostly downward trend in the zone over the past few years. There was a 3.8 percent overall increase from 1999 to 2000, shoved upward by hikes in rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and arson. Prior to that, crime in the zone had dropped between 1996 and 1999.

The crime statistics represent verified incidents and do not include simple assaults, vandalism, narcotics, weapon violations, stolen property or bad checks, while aggravated assaults also include aggravated batteries.

Here's how the three sectors in Zone 3 break down:

-- Sector G is bordered by the St. Johns River, Beach Boulevard and Southside Boulevard, and includes older neighborhoods and business areas as well as business parks near Baymeadows Road. There, overall crime went from 4,277 to 4,391 incidents from 2001 to 2002. Murders dropped from six to five; rapes dropped from 20 to 19; aggravated assaults went from 305 to 284 and robberies slid from 194 to 175. Burglaries increased from 731 to 813, while auto thefts jumped from 413 to 482.

Senterfit said his staff is aware of the auto theft increase. But a police task force that focused on auto thefts in Arlington, Mandarin and on the Southside made some progress last year.

"We had an auto theft task force that worked pretty hard, and the numbers at the start of the year were higher," he said. …

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