Crime Down, But Burglaries Are Up In Royal Palm

Crime is down overall in Royal Palm Beach, although burglaries were up in 2011, according to Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Miles, who gave his annual report to the Royal Palm Beach Village Council on May 17.

“Overall, I’m happy to say the Village of Royal Palm Beach has had a 6.8 percent decrease in crime in 2011,” said Miles, commander of the PBSO’s District 9 substation.

District 9, which covers Royal Palm Beach, had 1,093 criminal reports in 2011, compared with 1,173 for 2010, a decrease of 80 incidents.

The village had two homicides in 2011, up from none in 2010. In August, a 24-year-old man was shot and killed behind a bank by a resident who has been charged with murder, Miles said. In December, a resident shot and killed a perpetrator attempting to steal a motorcycle. The state attorney’s office determined that incident to be a justifiable homicide, Miles said.

There were eight forcible rapes in 2011, down from 14 in 2010. There were 70 aggravated assaults in 2011, down from 75 in 2010; and 199 burglaries, up from 174 in 2010. There were 731 larcenies in 2011, down from 826 in 2010; and 69 auto thefts, up from 62 in 2010.

Larcenies made up 66 percent of the total crime incidents, with shoplifting responsible for 34 percent of all reported theft incidents. However, shoplifting decreased 16.5 percent from 266 incidents in 2010 to 222 in 2011, Miles said.

There were 14 robberies in 2011, way down from a high of 43 in 2007, Miles said. “These are usually crimes of opportunity; however, we did three arrests in these cases,” he said. “Overall, robberies were down 36.3 percent compared to 2010.”

Of the total robbery cases, seven were highway, four were commercial, one was a gas station and two were residential.

Overall, there was an 11.9 percent reduction in all thefts in 2011. “We had 25 more burglary incidents this past year as the preceding year,” Miles said. “Burglaries continue to be the biggest challenge in the village.”

Traffic enforcement was up last year, with District 9 deputies writing 8,025 citations. “DUI arrests increased by 4.9 percent,” Miles said, an increase from 121 to 127. “Citations increased by 7.7 percent, and crashes decreased by 4.2 percent.”

The District 9 Street Crime Team, made up of four deputies and a supervisor with support from road patrol units, made 277 arrests, which resulted in 87 felony arrests, 137 misdemeanors, 41 warrants and 12 traffic arrests, Miles said. There were 10 vehicle crimes, 14 weapon violations and $24,192 in cash seizures.

The two District 9 detectives were assigned 452 cases, resulting in 102 clearances, for a clearance rate of 22.56 percent, compared with a national rate of 18.9 percent, and 66 arrests.

Miles said the clearance rate could be higher if they only assigned cases with some chance of solvability. He pointed out that some departments only assign solvable cases.

“I assign cases to these detectives [and] some have almost a zero solvability factor,” he said. “We have no witness, no DNA, there’s very little to work on. However, I think it’s important that we at least do some follow-up with residents and leave those cases so when we work with these other cases, there might be something that links us to those other cases.”

Miles said his key goal for 2012 is to reduce burglaries. He also wants to continue to reduce robberies and focus on community outreach, Miles said, explaining that community participation continues to be an important aspect of the department.

Last year, District 9 participation included five career days at local schools, Boy Scout and Girl Scout crime prevention training, Fleet Watch with village staff, 64 appearances before homeowners’ associations and attendance at a number of community special events.

District 9 is one of four PBSO stations that provide fingerprinting services. Last year, 1,646 requests for fingerprinting were processed. Bicycle-equipped deputies provided 1,271 bicycle hours, more than double the number of the previous year. “You see many of our guys out there on bicycles,” Miles said. “We have more and more certified.”

Deputies picked up 307 truants. The Mounted Unit provided 366 patrol hours on horseback. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Unit stopped 180 trucks, did 149 truck inspections, removed 28 trucks from service, removed four drivers from service and issued 34 warnings and 38 citations. The Marine Unit provided 144 patrol hours.

The Computer Assisted Dispatch System (CADS) recorded 76,042 incidents for District 9 last year. Of those, 52,141 were police activity such as business or residential checks or traffic stops. The remaining 23,901 were residential or business calls for service.

Also speaking at last Thursday’s meeting was Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Arena with his annual report.

Arena said PBCFR responded to a total of 3,695 Royal Palm Beach incidents in 2012. Of those, there were 2,768 medical calls, 338 vehicle or boating accidents, 294 alarms, 167 assists or investigations, 100 fires and 28 hazardous material or power line incidents. Of the medical calls handled, 2,232 resulted in transport of patients to hospitals.

Structure fires pose the most serious threat to life and property loss, Arena said, explaining that each year, PBCFR analyzes structural fires to determine the location and cause of each fire. The majority, 59 percent, occur in one- or two-family dwellings. Of those, 34.9 percent originate in the kitchen during food preparation. The most common cause is leaving the area unattended, which allows the fire to grow and spread beyond the cooking appliance, Arena said.

Smoke detectors help lead to early fire discovery. PBCFR has an ongoing program to install smoke detectors in homes of those who are unable to due to physical or monetary restrictions.