Features — 19 May 2015 — by Adele Ramos
Murder rate up 40%; major crimes down 11%

BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 18, 2015–Information published by the Police Information Technology Unit reveals that a crime happens in Belize every 23 minutes. Those might not be considered major crimes, which is a special classification that the police give to 6 types of crimes, namely robberies, burglaries, carnal knowledge, theft, rape and murder.

Police say that they record roughly 25,000 incidences of crime each year, about 2,000 every month, 480 a week and 64 in a day. Only a small percentage of these even make it on to the police reports issued to the media and of those, only a portion actually make the news. Whereas a marijuana bust may not be deemed newsworthy, murders, which are considered to be the most heinous and lamentable forms of crime, almost always are.

Last week Wednesday, May 13, National Security Minister John Saldivar chastised the media for “sensationalizing” murders. Saldivar said that, “since 2012 when I took over as the Minister of National Security, we have seen a thirty percent decrease in major crimes in this country, but that goes unnoticed because the media prefers to cover the murders and not the other crime statistics which show that we are making great progress.”

Total-Major-Crimes

On Friday, the police issued a range of crime statistics to bolster the minister’s position. Indeed, those stats do show that there has been an overall decrease in major crimes when all categories are tallied—a decrease of 10.85%. However, the data also confirm that there has been a spike in murders so far for 2015 – a spike of almost 40% over the same period in 2014. It is the biggest percentage change in the major crime statistics and therefore, the most notable.

On the other hand, the data show a remarkable fall-off in the incidences of burglaries and robberies, as well as a less pronounced decline in the incidences of thefts. And while the incidences of carnal knowledge have fallen substantially for the four months in question, the incidences of rape have escalated.

The Police IT Unit also revealed that the daily murder rate over the weekend—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—turns out to be almost double the murder rate during the weekdays. This explains why the news reported over the weekend and on Mondays usually features murder reports. This weekend alone, there were four murders, including a double murder of two Americans in Teakettle, Cayo, last Friday evening.

Most murders tend to occur in the Belize District, mirroring the trend which indicates that of 25,000 incidences of crime reported annually, 55% of them occur in the Belize District and 33.6% of them in Belize City. Southside communities are indeed the hardest hit, the data confirm, indicating the street names associated with the bulk of the crime reports. Featuring at the top of the list are Central American Boulevard, Mahogany Street, Vernon Street and West Collet Canal.

Of all incidences of crime, 71.5% occur in urban areas, while 28.5% occur in the rural areas.

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