College Park taking a bite out of crime, Stuart says

There is some good news when it comes to crime in College Park, City CommissionerRobert Stuart said.

He noted that recent statistics provided by the Orlando Police Department indicate that property crimes are down compared to several years ago.

Another piece of good news, Stuart said, is that neighborhood watch groups – the ability of College Park residents to become the eyes and ears of local law enforcement and report any crimes potentially happening – is clearly having an impact.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the College Park Neighborhood Association, Stuart encouraged College Park residents to continue organizing and actively participating in those neighborhood watch groups.

“When neighbors feel safe, they don’t feel the need to have a neighborhood watch,” Stuart said, “when what makes you safe is the neighborhood watch.”

Stuart also said when crimes do occur in College Park, residents can fight back in a simple and effective way.

“Call 9-1-1,” the commissioner said. “Call, and we’ll respond to it.”

Stuart said there is a perception that crime is worse in College Park than it actually is.

“There have been a lot of rumors floating around about how bad crime is in College Park, and that’s not accurate,” Stuart said.

According to the statistics provided by OPD, Stuart said, the neighborhood is averaging fewer residential burglaries this year than three years ago.

Statistics taken from the Orlando Police Department’s list of calls for service from College Park, and reported cases, indicate that burglaries are down by 5 percent, theft from motor vehicles are down by 46 percent, and thefts of motor vehicles are down by about 25 percent, the commissioner noted.

All other larcenies have gone down by 20 percent, Stuart said.

“Those figures have stayed consistent,” Stuart said. “Residential burglaries have leveled off. We’d like to bring them down even more.”

Stuart said this is not even just a trend in the College Park neighborhood.

“There has been a decrease in crime across our country, especially in the Sunbelt, and nobody knows why,” he said.

Locally, however, Stuart said several factors appear to be helping to bring those crime rates down.

“We have maintained, from a budget standpoint, the same number of officers out there,” he said.

OPD also launched Operation Lock Up, a special program that puts officers on the streets, checking to be sure local home and car doors are locked.

When they are not, officers get in contact with the owners and educate them about how to best protect themselves from property crimes.

“Operation Lock Up has been a big deal,” Stuart said.

The local residents who are or have already formed neighborhood watch groups, he added, are also playing a key role.

“We’re working hard, and we are seeing success in the last three or four years of our neighborhood watch,” Stuart said.

He added that it’s also been important that Orlando’s chief of police, John Mina, has put a strong emphasis on combating burglaries.

When a call comes in, “They are responding very quickly,” Stuart said.