NORTH PORT, Fla. — A recent report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows crime in North Port increased by 45 percent between 2017 and 2018. But spokesperson Josh Taylor with the city said that number doesn’t capture the reality.
“We’re not by any means trying to say that we don’t have crime here in North Port. We do. But percentages don’t tell the entire picture,” said Taylor.
North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison released a letter Wednesday saying 400 more crimes were reported in 2018 than 2017. He said most were nonviolent. Half were shoplifting, mostly from Walmart. He said the local Walmart reported more thefts from the self-checkout line after they started using new technology to detect it.
Homicides increased from zero to four within that year.
“The fact that we’ve had that few homicides does show that we are a pretty safe place,” said Taylor.
But he said an increase is an increase.
“We’re not sitting there trying to justify every number,” he said. “This is a constant battle between good and evil.”
The number of reported rapes in North Port jumped from 25 to 34. Not a large increase, but Taylor said it could be attributed to more national support for rape victims in recent years.
“The #MeToo movement for example has been big lately. I think that’s empowered a lot of people to come forward and tell their story,” he said.
Other Southwest Florida cities also saw an increase in crime. Crime in Punta Gorda jumped by 30 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Cities known for higher crime rates like Fort Myers actually saw a three percent decrease from 2017 to 2018 according to the FDLE report.
Taylor also said the number of rapes are down so far to nine this year compared to fifteen reported around this time last year. and no reported homicides yet.