Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rolando Silva presented the PBSO’s District 8 annual report comparing statistics from 2018 to the previous year at the Wellington Village Council meeting on Tuesday, April 23.
“This report will reveal that we have had a banner year,” explained Silva, commander of the PBSO’s substation in Wellington. “As far as our trajectory with reported crimes, it is continuing to get better.”
Silva led the council through a PowerPoint presentation focused on crime statistics.
“Person crimes, property crimes and crashes are all down,” he noted. “Arrests are down a little bit with robberies. We had 13 robbery arrests in 2017, and we had one less in 2018, but the arrests for burglaries are up about 14.10 percent.”
Mayor Anne Gerwig asked Silva to clarify the difference between a robbery and a burglary.
“A robbery is when the victim is a person. So, if you take something from a person with threat or actual violence, this constitutes a robbery,” he explained. “This is always a felony and is a serious crime because the victim is a person. A burglary is a theft of breaking and entering into a structure or a car.”
Vehicle crashes tend to increase slightly during the equestrian season, but Silva said that is not surprising.
“This slide shows there was a 13 percent reduction in crashes [in the off season],” he said. “It goes down a little bit during the summer and picks back up during the season. I think that is good news.”
Traffic citations and warnings are up from the previous year. “These are up about 15 percent for citations and 25 percent in written warnings,” Silva said. “We went down a little bit in verbal warnings. But we like to think that some of these efforts resulted in keeping down the crash numbers.”
Silva compared how Wellington measures up to other similar communities in terms of crime.
“Population-wise, we are in the middle between Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens,” Silva said. “When it comes to residential burglaries per 100 residents, or per capita, we are down at the absolute lowest. So, I think that is remarkable. When it comes to vehicle burglaries, we are still the lowest.”
Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone was impressed by how well Wellington stacks up against its peer municipalities.
“This is a remarkable slide. It reflects what a great job you are doing keeping our crime rate the lowest,” Napoleone said.
Village Manager Paul Schofield, however, noted one item that is way up.
“One thing that was up dramatically was traffic stops,” he said. “The PBSO has been making more traffic stops than previous years, and you can see the effect in the outcome.”
Gerwig asked Silva how ride-sharing apps are changing his job. “Are we seeing changes with Uber and Lyft? Are they having an effect on DUIs?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” Silva replied. “There are many more Ubers lined up outside these places. People are recognizing it is not worth risking [an arrest].”
Silva gave a great deal of credit to his staff. “We have good detective work. Our detectives are pretty top notch,” he said. “They are very diligent and good at catching and staying after people until they catch them. You guys support us by giving us resources.”
It was also noted that residents being able to supply video of crimes has also been helpful.
“More residents have video cameras,” Silva said. “But also, the [License Plate Readers] have come online. The diligent patrols are proof that staying active is preventing automobile thefts. This is all contributing to the reduction in numbers.”
Silva continued to urge residents to keep their car doors and home doors locked, since burglaries are often a crime of opportunity.
“Out of 10 burglaries, eight of them are unlocked,” he said. “There are still a prominent number of residents who are not locking their cars. Everyone who locks their cars and does these responsible things helps tremendously in making a difference.”
Keeping doors locked will also deter future crime, he noted.
“The reputation that you can just come up here to commit crimes because we are an easy target has to change,” Silva said. “We are demonstrating that more proactive activity on our behalf is making a difference. If the residents see something, call it out.”
Napoleone thanked Silva for his report.
“This was a great report,” he said. “Every year the numbers seem to go down. The statistics bear out that Wellington is still one of the safest places to live. You guys have done a great job. Keep up the good work.”
Councilman Michael Drahos agreed. “This is all good news,” he said. “It is like getting a report card with all straight As. This report is right in line with our goals.”