ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - Crime stats for the first half of 2017 shows the crime rate in Atlantic Beach up by one-third over last year, based on newly released state data.
Numbers released this week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the first six months of 2017 show the crime index is up 35.5 percent in Atlantic Beach over the same period in 2016. And that 2016 crime index was up 23 percent from 2015.
Based on the FDLE data, there were no murders in Atlantic Beach in the first half of 2017, but two rapes, compared to only one in all of last year. There were 64 burglaries in all of 2016. From January to June of this year, there were 29.
There were 16 robberies in Atlantic Beach in all of 2016, while in the first half of 2017, there were five. There were 30 cars stolen in all of last year. In the first six months of 2017, there were 18 vehicle thefts.
The Atlantic Beach Police Department reported 18.6 arrests per 100 crimes in the first half of 2017 while there were 22.5 arrests per 100 crimes in 2016.
FDLE crime stats January-June 2017 by city
Devon Ritch, who runs the Atlantic Beach Midweek Market, has noticed the change and is concerned.
"I honestly don't know," Ritch said when ask what she thinks is causing the crime. "There's an Atlantic Beach Facebook group where people will post stuff, but generally it's people who have left their doors unlocked. If you forget to lock your car at night, it kind of opens you up."
Atlantic Beach police remind residents to help prevent crime by always taking their keys and locking car doors, don’t leave valuables in plain sight and stay aware of their surroundings, especially when walking at night.
While the crime rate in Atlantic Beach went up into he first half of the year, it dropped by double digits in Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach, while overall crime in the rest of Duval County was almost flat year-over-year.
Barbara Wilson said one of the reasons she moved to Jacksonville beach for more security.
"There's too much of it," Wilson said of crime. She hopes, "it ends before the whole world just implodes."
But Eric Riebel said the beaches are still much better off than Orlando, where he lived until three months ago.
"I feel a lot safer here because Orlando is off the wall with crime," Riebel said.
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