GLENDALE — The number of violent and property crimes in Glendale dropped last year, but making a significant dent in the number of thefts continues to be a challenge.
Violent crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell from 302 incidents in 2009 to 277 last year for a collective 8% drop, according to the Glendale Police Department year-end figures.
While violent crimes saw a large dip, property crimes — including burglary, auto burglary and thefts, arson and grand and petty theft — dropped only 1%, from 3,761 in 2009 to 3,725 last year, according to the department.
"Obviously, violent crimes are our greatest concern, especially in light of the increased release of felons from state prison," Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said at a meeting of the Glendale Police Advisory Council on Tuesday. "So far, knock on wood, our violent crime rate has continued to decrease."
Still, stabilizing the number of property crimes has been a battle.
"There has been a 1% reduction, but for the most part, we have seen spikes and increases in property crimes across the city and we are fighting that daily," De Pompa said.
The number of petty thefts increased from 1,420 in 2009 to 1,558 last year — a 10% increase. Grand thefts and burglary incidents increased slightly by 1%.
Major decreases occurred in the number of auto thefts and auto burglaries, with drops of 19% and 14%, respectively, according to police.
All other crimes in more general categories decreased 11% to 8,480 last year.
"Overall, I think that with all the challenges we faced, we are still keeping a lid on crime and that's what it is all about in terms of our safety," De Pompa said.
He attributed the area command system and developing partnerships with residents to the overall reduction in crime.
Area command divides the city into four jurisdictions, each overseen by a lieutenant who coordinates regular patrols and targeted enforcement to address specific community needs.
Advisory council member Sam Manoukian praised the area command.
"It really, really works great because of the way you have set up," advisory council member Sam Manoukian said.
The city also ranked as the 12th safest city in the nation and came in the eighth place in California in 2009, officials said. Preliminary figures for 2010 won't be released for a few weeks.
The ranking is based on violent and property crime statistics gathered by law enforcement agencies and submitted to the FBI.
"This is good and bad in that we are still part of safest top 10 in the state of California, which is good," De Pompa said.
But he said the city's national ranking dropped from 11 in 2008 to 12 in 2009. The city ranked seventh in California in 2008.
While crime has continued to drop throughout the country, De Pompa said it hasn't tapered off in Glendale.