Scene of a shooting on Sacramento Street in 2010. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel.

What with the rash or armed robberies that occured last fall, including one that ended in the death of a 35-year-old man walking home on Adeline Street, one would have been forgiven for thinking that Berkeley was witnessing a surge in violent crime last year.

However, according to newly released figures, violent crime was down 13% in 2010 and crime overall saw an 8.8% decline compared to the previous year.

In its report citing the statistics, the Berkeley Police Department said this is the largest decrease in crime the city has seen for more than a decade — and it is in line with the department’s goal of reducing crime by 10% in 2011.

Robberies — which are usually relatively high in Berkeley — were down 18%, a five-year low. Property crime — which takes in burglary, theft, car theft and arson — showed an 8% drop,  with car theft alone decreasing 18%.

Only two crime categories saw an increase year-on-year, and only marginally: aggravated assault was up 2%, and burglary increased by 1%.

In a statement, the BPD said it was pleased with the overall downward trend in crime in Berkeley. “Members of BPD believe that coordinated, focused, team approaches contribute to decreases in crime. BPD will continue to strive to be a successful, respectful and effective police organization while working in increasingly challenging financial times. We will work with our partners in the community to prevent and reduce crime while developing creative means to achieve it within our budget.”

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...