Gulfport’s Ward 4 Councilman Michael Fridovich held a town-hall-style meeting on Wednesday, August 9, where residents were encouraged to ask questions on an array of topics, from budgets to crime.
Fridovich was accompanied by City Manager Jim O’Reilly as well as Police Chief Robert Vincent.
Vincent presented crime statistics comparing this year to last year in vehicle burglaries, residence burglaries, auto thefts and violent offenses.
According to his information, residence burglaries and “other thefts” have dropped 31 and 39 percent respectively from last year, but vehicle burglaries have increased a staggering 50 percent.
Chief Vincent attributes that to people leaving cars unlocked, making it easy for criminals to enter the vehicle and said the crimes are most likely committed by juveniles.
“We have arrested several people for vehicle burglaries,” Vincent said. “Two or three kids can have a significant impact on these numbers.”
Vincent went on to say that “the juvenile justice system is not designed to rehabilitate of punish children. That’s the parent’s job.”
Fridovich also added that the responsibility is on residents to lock their doors.
“Even if I leave my house for five minutes, I lock my house and car door,” Fridovich said.
VIncent also stated that these crimes are not confined to one location in Gulfport, but are evenly spread throughout town.
Vincent and Fridovich are both hopeful that the vehicle burglaries will reduce now that school is back in session.
Violent offenses have also increased by 19 percent and Vincent said most of those are probably domestic assaults. “Violent crimes” includes everything from two kids fighting at school to homicide, according to Vincent.