In early May, the Wilton Manors Police Department arrested a man fleeing a crime scene who jumped the fence into the police compound at city hall. It was an easy arrest of a man Chief Paul O’Connell described as “not the brightest bulb.” Unfortunately, the chief also said it was part of an increase in certain types of crimes in the city.
“Unfortunately, the first four months have not been pretty,” O’Connell told attendees of a Central Area Neighborhood Association [CANA] meeting in May. He was referring to statistics the police department released of reported crimes – vehicle burglaries and theft, robberies, and residential burglaries.
In the statistics, which cover Jan. 1 to March 31 and broken down by the geographical area of each neighborhood association, crime rates varied. Total arrests in the entire city were up from 139 to 209.
In the East Neighborhood Association [ENA], residential burglaries were up from 2 to 3 from 2016 to 2017. Vehicular burglaries were down from 6 to 5, vehicle theft was up from 0 to 1, and robberies were up from 0 to 3. The total number of arrests in ENA was 25.
CANA residential burglaries were down from 14 to 8, vehicle burglaries were down from 15 to 13, vehicle theft was down from 9 to 3, and robberies were up from 0 to 4. The total number of arrests in CANA was 116.
In the Westside Association of Wilton Manors [WAWM], residential burglaries were up from 10 to 11, vehicular burglaries were up from 4 to 5, vehicle theft was up from 1 to 4, and robberies were up from 2 to 3. The total number of arrests in WAWM was 68.
Sal Torre, president of WAWM, said he’s not surprised by the increase.
“Here in Broward County, seeing an increase in drug-related crimes due to the growing opioid epidemic, along with growing homeless population and stagnant low wages, there should be no surprise that we are seeing a slight increase in the crime stats for our neighborhoods here in Wilton Manors. Our WMPD has done a great job in reaching out to neighborhood associations and residents warning to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious activity. Recent arrests around the city show the rewards of residents working together with the WMPD.”
To help combat crime, police are urging residents to communicate more with police and report suspicious behavior.
“Let us know,” said Commander Gary Blocker.
On May 31, according to police, one resident responded to that request and called to report two suspicious subjects in Manor Grove Village, located at Andrews Avenue and Northeast 21 Court. The two men were burglarizing a vehicle and were eventually arrested. The police department touted the arrests as a successful example of “See Something – Say Something.”
Police also want residents to be more cautious by locking their cars. Blocker said that 85 percent vehicles that are burglarized are left unlocked.
To remind residents to lock their vehicles, the police department has initiated its “Lock It. Or Lose It.” campaign and is encouraging motorists to lock their cars, hide their valuables or take them with you.