The City of Marco Island is currently experiencing its lowest crime rate in 17 years, according to a Marco Island Police Department (MIPD) news release.
The MIPD investigated 96 crimes in 2016, the lowest number of crimes reported on the island since the department’s inception in 2000, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program.
The UCR program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies; the program’s data is based on two classifications of crimes: violent crimes (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.)
According to the news release, violent crimes on the island decreased 83.5 percent from 2015 to 2016; specifically, aggravated assaults decreased 87.5 percent and simple assaults decreased 24 percent.
Property crimes also decreased 31.7 percent from 2015 to 2016, and the value of property stolen decreased from just under one million dollars in 2015, to nearly $250,000 in 2016.
Overall crime has decreased 76 percent from 2000, with a 35 percent decrease from 2015 to 2016.
“The continuing reduction in crime was the direct result of the notable efforts of the men and women of the Marco Island Police Department (and) its important partnerships with the community and our local, county, state and federal partners,” MIPD Chief Al Schettino said in the news release. “The officers and staff of the MIPD recognize that the prevention of crime provides the best measure of a department's effectiveness and has a correlation to maintaining (and) improving the quality of life for those that work, live, learn on and visit our island paradise.”
MIPD Captain Dave Baer also recognized the hard work of the department's officers, and noted the important role that residents play in keeping crime numbers down.
"They know their neighborhoods better than anyone else, so they know what's suspicious or when they should call us," he said, "and that's critically important and part of the success that's led to a reduction in crime."
According to UCR data, the city of Naples has also been experiencing a decrease in crime; in 2013, the city had 39 violent crimes and 551 property crimes, and in 2014, it had 16 violent crimes and 541 property crimes, which are still higher numbers than the City of Marco Island, which had five violent crimes and 118 property crimes in 2014, the last year for which a full data set it available.
Punta Gorda, whose 2014 population was just 38 people less than Marco Island’s, also had more crime; the city experienced eight violent crimes and 287 property crimes, although both of those numbers are still decreases from the previous year.
However just because Marco Island is becoming more safe, doesn't mean that residents should become more lax with their personal security.
"When you release news like this, it often has an unintentional and dangerous consequence because people think, 'Wow, it's so safe, I don't need to take precautions,' and they'll start leaving their cars or houses unlocked," Baer said, "but everyone should still take precautions because I would hate for this good news to have negative results."