Violent crime in Berkeley declined by 4% in the first half of 2011, while property crime declined by 16%, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Berkeley Police Department.

The statistics are based on preliminary data from the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics for 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

“While violent crime is of paramount concern, the City of Berkeley Police Department has increased its efforts in dealing with the significant level of property crime in the City,” the BPD said in a press release. “The most common crime, theft, is frequently a crime of opportunity with suspects focusing on personal property (e.g., GPS, laptops, smart phones, purses) left unattended or left visible in parked vehicles.

“To address this, the BPD is employing multiple strategies including focused attention in areas and at times where crimes are occurring, multiple weekly crime analysis meetings and concentrated efforts on habitual offenders. In addition, BPD is working with the District Attorney to encourage a priority in charging and stronger sentences for chronic offenders. Finally, BPD is working with the University of California Police Department (UCPD) to educate students on the small lifestyle changes that can lessen their chances of being victimized.”

Here are the statistics released by the BPD for the first half of 2011 compared to the first half of 2010:

Homicide — down one case or 50% (2010: 2 / 2011: 1)
Rape — up four cases or 36% (2010: 11 / 2011: 15)
Robbery — down five cases or 3% (2010: 155 / 2011: 150)
Aggravated Assault — down nine cases or 12% (2010: 73 /  2011: 64)
Burglary — up three cases or 0.6% (2010: 503 / 2011: 506)
Auto Theft — up 22 cases or 8% (2010: 292 / 2011: 314)
Theft — down 524 cases or 23% (2010: 2,186 / 2011: 1,662)
Arson — up five cases or 50% (2010: 10 / 2011: 15)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...