Police chief: Marco crime rate down

Steve Stefanides

Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino said the latest crime figures show a 32 percent drop in the Unified Crime Report statistics recently released for 2014 by the FBI.

"The men and women of this department continue to show their commitment to their oath of office," said Schettino. "The drop from 181 reportable crimes to 132 is a significant number."

UCR compiles violent crimes against a person or property crimes such as theft, robbery or burglaries committed within a jurisdiction.

"Marco is a safe community and a wonderful place to live," said Schettino. "That's not by accident, but is a collaborative effort of both the department and our citizens that keep it that way. Our citizens are our eyes and ears and if you see something suspicious pick up the phone and call 911."

The credit for the drop in crime numbers "can be attributed both to our officers who do an outstanding job and to the citizens of the community who take the necessary steps to ensure their property and valuables are properly protected," said Sgt. Nick Ojanovac, who supervises both investigative and patrol bureaus for the Marco police.

Ojanovac took over that responsibility as Schettino began his reorganization of the department to put "more feet on the street," as Schettino puts it.

Ojanovac, a 12-year law enforcement veteran and a three-year member of the department, was quick to point out that the vast majority of those crimes committed were thefts and burglaries.

One of the first changes in Marco's crime-handling stragegy came with the implementation of community policing. Community policing encourages interactive partnerships between law enforcement agencies, their officers, and the people they serve.

"Our officers quickly embraced the effort as has the community, and they've made it successful by their commitment to it," said Ojanovac. "The use of bicycles patrols, the reactivation of the motorcycle and the commitment of personnel to the marine division have all been great successes."

According to Ojanovac, one of the easiest ways citizens can help to crime statistics even more is by being cognizant of locking car doors and moving valuables from sight when they park their cars.

"Just move the items to the trunk or place them on the floor in the back and cover them with a blanket," said Ojanovac.

At home, make sure your garage door is closed, especially in the evening, said investigator Rich Stoltenborg.

"You'd be surprised how many people forget they've left it open," said Stoltenborg. "A lot of expensive tools and other items can go missing very quickly. Residents also need to make sure they lock their doors and secure sliders if they are not at home.

Stoltenborg also suggests residents consider keeping the TV on when they aren't home or a light on a timer.

Stoltenborg also warns mariners to secure loose items on their boats.

"Expensive radio and GPS equipment is an easy mark for those looking to make a quick score," said Stoltenborg.