Crime is on the rise in St. Petersburg, and the city’s top cop has a suspect: the faltering economy, says the St. Petersburg Times. Reported crime jumped by 7 percent during the first four months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, The spike largely is fueled by an increase in property crimes, which rose 8 percent from January to April. Violent crime is up 3 percent citywide.
“In some of the e-mails and stuff I’ve read people are seeing more break-ins and more garages broken into,” said City Council Chairman Jeff Danner. “I hear from the crime watch groups, and they have concerns.” Police Chief Chuck Harmon fears the trend will continue because of the sputtering economy. “I think the economy is the driving force,” he said. “There’s more potential targets because of vacant businesses and homes.  Your jobless rate is pretty high. You’re getting people forced to make decisions they would not ordinarily make if they were employed and off the street.