Fewer burglaries, more fraud and embezzlement Reported crime down in 2012

POSTED: 03/1/13 12:35 PM

St. Maarten – The number of reported crimes decreased in 2012 by 7.3 percent according to figures Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte presented yesterday to the Council of Ministers. Compared to 2010, the drop is even larger: 16.6 percent.

In 2012 the police recorded 2,294 crimes, divided over 23 categories. In 2011 there were 2,474 reported crimes, and the year before that 2,749. Unlike in previous year, the report does not contain solving percentages, because they are “tough to interpret.”
The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police force use different ground rules for labeling a crime as solved. As an example a spokesman for the police used a murder.”When after good detective work the identity of the murderer has been established and we are able to trace him abroad while we do not expect him to ever come back to St. Maarten, the murder is solved as far as the police are concerned. But the prosecutor’s office may never prosecute him.”
While the figures show almost across the board a drop in reported crime – and in some categories a significant one – there are also exceptions.

The number of threats for instance crept up for the second consecutive year: from 124 in 2010, to 187 in 2011 and 219 last year – an increase of 76.6 percent compared to 2010. Ill-treatment is also on the rise. After a dip in 2011 compared to the previous year, the number of ill-treatments skyrocketed last year by 41.9 percent to 210.
Rape (from 6 to 13) and sex with minors between 12 and 15 years of age 9 (from 1 to 6) also increased but because of the small numbers the percentages are pretty much meaningless.
That is different with fraud and embezzlement. Compared to 2010, fraud cases increased by more than a factor five, and embezzlement more than doubled. Altogether, the police recorded 65 cases of fraud, embezzlement and embezzlement at work, compared to 30 cases in 2011 and 25 in 2010.

There is also some good news in the police statistics. Last year saw a dramatic drop in home burglaries (29.5 percent) from 519 to 366 and an even larger drop in robberies by 32.8 percent (from 296 to 199). There were also fewer reports of car theft; these numbers dropped from 215 to 183 – a decrease of 14.9 percent.

In the most serious category of all – manslaughter and murder – it was a relatively calm year. After the 18 murders and manslaughters in 2011, last year the counter stopped at 10, 3 more than in 2010. Attempted murder and manslaughter cases rose slightly, from 9 to 11 – still one below the 2010 level.
The explanation behind all these figures is as diverse as the crimes the police recorded. In 2011 the police force established a burglary team that combined information, tactical clues and forensic evidence.”This allowed groups of offenders to be linked with several burglaries. This has led to more arrests, convictions and deportations,” Chief Commissioner De Witte said.

In 2011, when the country was ravaged by the Vesuvius-killings, resources from the team that investigated robberies had to be deployed elsewhere. In the beginning of last year, the robbery team was reinforced and that resulted amongst others in the solving of fifteen armed robberies in Sint Peters.
The Chief Commissioner said that the increased visibility of the men and women in blue has had a preventive effect. The establishment of the community police may have had a positive effect on the decreasing number of robberies.
After the arrest of suspects in the Vesuvius-investigation in 2011, the first quarter of 2012 passed without killings in the criminal circuit. De Witte refrained from making predictions about the future murder rate, saying that many aspects are unpredictable. The fluctuating composition of the population and the financial crisis could both have a major impact, he said.
At the same time, the chief commissioner said that the police force has improved its ability to solve capital crimes. He mentioned the murder of Americans Thelma and Michael King as an example.”The police solved it within a month. It gives confidence to build professionalism within the police.”

Sexual offenses are a special category. De Witte said that compared to the reported cases there may be “a relatively large dark number” meaning that the reported cases are just the tip of an iceberg. There is hesitation and fear to report sexual offenses that take place in a domestic environment. De Witte noted that from the 62 reports the police received, only 31 resulted in an actual complaint.
“Many cases start with an interview by a police specialist and then we have to come to a victim’s aid for example because she does not want to press charges or does not have the courage to do that,” he said, adding that severe cases occur within families and step families. “That should be more on the social agenda because the police are only able to act after the fact.”

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