Sheriff Rick Staly Cites Flagler Crime Statistics In Report

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly had a lot of favorable statistics regarding crime in Flagler County when he made his seventh annual Addressing Crime Together Community Meeting recently. The most important revelation may have been the fact that the overall crime rate in the county has decreased by 54% since 2017, the year the sheriff took office.
Other favorable statistics include the fact that a Palm Coast survey found that 92% of residents felt safe. The survey also found that 81% felt very or somewhat safe about property crime and 84% felt safe from violent crime. Those are all great numbers but there was one number that wasn’t great and that’s the fact that residential burglaries in-creased in 2023 although they appear to be trending downwards this year. And all of this positive activity took place while at the same time the population has been steadily growing and will continue to do so.
Homeowners should not be fearful of a break-in, he said, because that crime has centered mostly on homes un-der construction, in which someone might enter and steal lumber, for example, or commit vandalism, according to Staly. While some of the vandalism was done by juveniles, Staly reported that some adults who didn’t want to see a new house on a nearby empty lot also committed vandalism.
“As I drive around the community, I can see that because people are out walking, bicycling, they’re using our trails, and in areas where the community doesn’t feel safe that doesn’t happen,” Staly said.
Staly, a Republican, is running for re-election this year and has so far drawn one candidate, Larry Jones, a Democrat, whom Staly easily beat in 2020 when Staly received 70% of the vote to Jones’ 30%. Staly also defeat-ed Jones in 2016 by 54% to 39% of the vote.
As far as other crimes are concerned, assault and battery is down 35% so far this year. Domestic violence in-creased in 2023, but is down 4% so far this year. Staly said the county has seen 16,000 new residents in the last three years, which may factor into the increase in domestic violence reported after the pandemic.
“Maybe they don’t take domestic violence seriously where they came from, but they found out here that we do,” Staly said.
Before the pandemic, domestic violence was trending downward. But when people who perhaps didn’t have a great relationship to start with were forced to stay home in close quarters, it created more tension, he said. A related crime, stalking, is up 133%.
Staly warned people to not pursue others in former relationships and not to violate injunctions.
“Let the individual go. There’s a reason you broke up. If you continue to stalk them and harass them, you are going to get arrested,” Staly warned. He said that sex offenses are down 5%. Robberies were up in 2023, but it is gen-erally a known suspect who stole from someone in a violent manner or a drug ripoff, Staly said. Scams and frauds are up 4% with about 100 cases in 2024 so far. Assault and battery is down 35% so far this year.
Staly said car burglaries are up by seven from last year. And his agency is seeing a trend in car burglaries in that more criminals are smashing windows when they find car doors locked, rather than moving on to another car. So far this year, 33% of car breaks involved a broken window compared to 17% last year.
Staly said electric bicycles are becoming more of a target for thieves, usually at Publix and Walmart and out-side residences. He advised residents to chain up their e-bikes.
He said that shoplifting incidents are up about 80% as compared to last year, usually at big box stores, like Target and Walmart. He said that 73% of those occurred at self-checkouts by either skip-scanning, in which a person scans an item but skips others, or bar-code swapping.
Staly said a University of Florida study projects that Flagler County will have a population of 172,000 residents by 2035 — just 11 years away.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Flagler County had a population of 131,439 as of July 2023.
Staly said the agency is 37 deputies short to meet the needs of the community to handle calls for service, and that does not include the growth the community is seeing.