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updated: 3/4/2011 4:38 PM

Aurora reports overall crime decrease

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Major crime in Aurora dropped roughly 11 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, police said Friday.

A smaller percentage of crimes occurred in five of the eight major crime categories, including murders, robberies, aggravated assaults/batteries, thefts and motor vehicle thefts. Percentages rose for arsons, burglaries and criminal sexual assaults.

Motor vehicle thefts declined the most last year, with a 29 percent decrease from 2009, according to police statistics. Murders dropped 20 percent and the percentage decreases for robberies, aggravated assaults/batteries and thefts were between 14 percent and 18 percent.

Chief Greg Thomas said partnerships with other law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resulted in the arrest of more than 130 gang members responsible for violent crimes over several years.

"That allowed us to concentrate even more so on the other types of crime, the property-related crimes," Thomas said.

Working with community groups and increasing neighborhood watch efforts also contributed to an overall decrease in crime, he said.

The total of 4,432 major crimes reported last year was lower than the total of 4,843 reported in 1978, the first year Aurora police kept detailed crime statistics.

"Working together with a world-class police force, our community has overcome great adversity," Mayor Tom Weisner said in a news release. "Achieving a 32-year low in crime is a tremendous accomplishment."

Despite the overall decrease, arsons increased 47 percent, burglaries rose 8 percent and criminal sexual assaults increased 1.59 percent, statistics show.

Aside from major crimes, Aurora police said the number of reported shots fired -- 75 in 2010 -- reached a low since the department started recording the statistic in 1996. The number of shots fired represents a 19.4 percent decrease compared with 2009 and a 79 percent drop compared with 1996. Last year also saw 4,842 traffic crashes -- 138 fewer than 2009, for a 2 percent decrease.

"Gone are the days when people could point to Aurora and claim we were an unsafe community -- that's simply not true today," Weisner said. "These statistics continue to prove that chapter of our story is behind us."