Juvenile crime down 24% statewide

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In Hillsborough County, troubled youths are arrested for burglaries more than any other crime.

"There's juveniles committing a lot of crimes out there,” said Corporal Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.  “They're involved in breaking into cars, primarily unlocked car doors looking for wallets, purses, the primary, number one thing they look for is guns."

Dangerous facts, deputies are well aware of.  The Sheriff's Office tracks the data, and responds in force to cut off new illegal trends by teen felons.          

"So when we see those crime numbers start to increase, that's when we move our resources into focusing on that and attack it before it gets out of hand," McKinnon said.

A strategy that’s clearly working.

Data just released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice shows 884 fewer teenagers in-trouble with the law over the last fiscal year. That's a 14% drop.

"It certainly is a proud moment for us," said McKinnon.

Across the region, it's a similar story.  Pasco County had a 19% decrease in juvenile arrests.  In Sarasota County, there was an 18% reduction.  The numbers dipped 13% in Manatee County, and Pinellas County had 12% fewer youths behind bars.

Governor Rick Scott credits innovative and aggressive reforms aimed at keeping teens out of the system.

Statewide, the number of juveniles arrested in the last fiscal year dropped below 65,000.  That’s the lowest number in 42-years.

"That really amounts to hard work, a lot of good, old fashioned police work, and educating the public and us working together to keep these crimes down," McKinnon said.