Dollars drive crime

Published: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 10:52 p.m.

In a year of dismal economic news, property crimes dominated the 2008 reports from each of the 18 zones that Gainesville police use to divide the city.

Burglary was the most reported crime in 16 of those zones from January through November. Theft cases ranked as the most reported crime in the two remaining zones.

The information came from compiled crime reports provided by the Gainesville Police Department and requested by The Sun.

Police tally the figures of certain crimes - personal crimes such as murder or robbery, or property crimes such as stolen vehicles or burglary - to provide to the Uniform Crime Reports. These reports go to different agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI, to show crime statistics for the year.

The data showed a different trend for the city than a similar review of reports in mid-2006 by The Sun.

Burglary and theft again were top crimes in some zones in 2006. But two years ago, batteries also were the most reported crimes in four of the zones.

Stemming violent crime has been a focus for the police department in recent years.

Responding to reports of violent crimes, including the brutal, unsolved slaying of a woman and her 6-year-old daughter in late 2006, the police department in early 2007 formed a violent crime task force to combat personal crimes such as robbery. The agency now has the Tactical Impact Unit, which focuses on fighting violent crime.

This year, reports of break-ins at businesses and residences or grand and petit thefts kept officers busy throughout the city.

Police figures show zone Whiskey reported the most burglaries during the 11-month period. Whiskey covers territory east of SW 34th Street, with Archer and Williston roads on the north and south sides of the zone.

The same area also had the most reports of stolen vehicles with 43 reports during the time frame.

Zone Uniform in northeast Gainesville, bordered on the south by University Avenue and Waldo Road on the west, had top figures in several personal crime categories including reported batteries, robberies and sex crimes.

The Delta zone ranked at the top of the list for assaults and domestic batteries, according to reports. The zone's boundaries are NE 53rd Avenue on the north, NE 16th Avenue on the south and NW 6th Street on the west.

Foxtrot, which includes The Oaks Mall, had the most reported thefts, figures showed.

In northeast Gainesville, Zone Lima had two homicides from January through November. Boundaries for Lima include University Avenue, NW 13th Street and 16th Avenue and Main Street. Three other zones reported homicides but only one during that 11-month period.

From January through November, police received reports of more than 9,600 crimes including assaults, batteries, burglaries, homicides, robberies, sex crimes, stolen vehicles and thefts in the city.

Zones in the city have varied since 2006. One zone, Charlie, that led the zones with the most reported assaults, burglaries, robberies and thefts when The Sun looked at figures two years ago has since been reduced in size.

Others have been redrawn as annexations have occurred or housing and businesses have been added in certain sections of the city.

Police spokesman Lt. Keith Kameg said the zones change so work is equitably distributed among officers assigned to different areas. Some zones may be large but have fewer neighborhoods or calls. Meanwhile the police department uses smaller zones in the downtown area of Gainesville, which tend to have a heavy call load.

Zone Mike, for example, in downtown Gainesville had just four fewer batteries reported than the Uniform zone, which had the most reported batteries. Uniform had 155 batteries while 151 were reported in Mike.

The zones will be reviewed and could be redrawn next year due to new annexations to the city, such as an area of SW 20th Avenue between SW 34th Street and Interstate 75, Kameg said.

The names for the zones are part of the NATO phonetic alphabet that assigns code words to letters of the English language so strings of letters can be sounded out and understood when radio or telephone messages are transmitted.

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