MOULTRIE -- Violent crimes in Colquitt County against people of Hispanic origin has been on an increase recently, according to incidents reported to law enforcement officers. National figures show a decrease in violence against Hispanics, but reported incidents of violent crimes locally appear to be increasing.

The recent murders of the Resendez family, Mrs. Resendez's Caucasian mother and the Hispanic woman thought to be the family's housekeeper are the most recent and most dramatic incident of violence, but other recent incidents of violent crimes against Hispanics included robbery, beatings, stabbings and rape. Some of these incidents were perpetrated by other Hispanics, others were not.

Some would believe an increase in Hispanic population leads to more crime, but law enforcement officers see different reasons for the increase.

Colquitt County Sheriff Al Whittington said Hispanics can be easy targets for crime because of their mistrust. Working Hispanics tend to mistrust banks, so they carry around large sums of money on their person. Hispanics coming to America for work have also been victims of crime by law enforcement officers in their native lands, so Whittington said they often don't trust law enforcement.

Whittington said the best ways Hispanics can help to avoid becoming the victims of violent crime are to use banks and to report any crimes committed against them. Not carrying large sums of money, either by depositing money in banks or sending money home to families, can be a simple yet effective deterrent against crime.

Even though Hispanics may rarely speak outside of a close group of friends, Whittington said one of those friends should still contact law enforcement officers and notify them. Officers can do nothing to help apprehend someone who commits a crime unless they first know it happened.

Another way to help reduce crime against Hispanics is to allow those who drive to obtain temporary driving permits. These can be obtained with a valid driver's license from a person's native land and a minimal knowledge of American driving laws.

The licenses would only be temporary -- for example, valid only during an agricultural season -- Whittington said.

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