A third East Valley city, Chandler, is reporting a drop in serious crimes.
From the beginning of this year through August, there were 5,862 reported instances of so-called “Part One offenses,” which are homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts and arson.
During the same period in 2006, Chandler police reported 6,500 of those crimes — a drop for 2007 of 9.8 percent.
Helping explain the improvement in public safety was a 22.5 percent drop in motor vehicle thefts, from 775 to 601.
“What we credit that to is the auto theft unit being real proactive,” police spokesman detective Frank Mendoza said Thursday.
Only in the categories of homicides (six to seven) and robberies (steady at 150) did crime not drop.
The city’s good news comes on the heels of Mesa and Tempe reporting drops in crime of 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
And as in Chandler, those municipalities also are reducing the number of stolen cars.
Statewide statistics offer mixed news, according to crime experts.
Enrique Cantu, executive director of the Arizona Automobile Theft Association, noted that while Valley cities are stopping this property crime, Tucson and Yuma are suffering through spikes in the same.
Overall, the state’s auto theft rate dropped 0.1 percent from 2005 to 2006, although the decrease is numerically steeper after taking into account Arizona’s population growth, Cantu said.
Also, Cantu added, Arizona is doing well compared with other Western states.
Cantu credited technology, in the form of license-plate readers and “bait” cars set up to snare thieves, for the downturn.
“Those two things are very, very instrumental in helping to reduce auto theft,” Cantu said.
Along those lines, Mendoza said Chandler’s ability to plot crime reports against locations and times gives the police a leg up on the criminals.
“It gives us a good likelihood of knowing where possible target areas may be,” Mendoza said. “We utilize all that information, and then go out and work areas that may be of concern.”