LEE COUNTY — The crime rate in areas covered by the Lee County Sheriff's Office fell by 12 percent in 2012, but the violent crime rate saw a 2 percent uptick, according to data released Tuesday.
Helped by significant drops in thefts and burglaries, the nonviolent crime rate in Lee County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction fell by about 14 percent, the office reported in its annual crime report Tuesday. About 775 fewer residential burglaries and 620 fewer thefts over $200 were reported in 2012 compared to 2011.
An uptick in forced sex crimes and aggravated assaults pushed the Sheriff's Office violent crime rate up slightly. There were 177 reported forced sex crimes in 2012, up from 141 in 2011, and 707 aggravated assaults, up from 669 in 2011.
Violent crime remains low compared to recent years. Between 2007 and 2012, the violent crime rate in areas covered by the Lee County Sheriff's Office has fallen nearly 40 percent.
The data, known as Uniform Crime Reports, only accounts for crimes reported to sheriff's officials. As a result, it doesn't provide an exact picture of crime, though criminal justice experts generally agree it's the best measuring tool available.
In the Sheriff's Office's Delta District, which covers Bonita Springs, Estero and parts of south Fort Myers, total crime fell by about 7 percent, with near-equal drops in violent and nonviolent crime. Population figures weren't available to compare crime rates.
"If it weren't for the proactive efforts of our deputies and support staff around the clock on the street, in the jail, on the phone and in dedicated service, we would not see such improvements," Sheriff Mike Scott said in a statement.
Fort Myers police also posted declines, with a 22 percent drop in nonviolent crime and a 2 percent drop in violent crime. The city, which has struggled with a staggering increase in killings, had 24 murders, its highest number on record.
Collier County crime data wasn't available Tuesday morning.