Evanston police say reported major crime in the city dropped sharply last year.

The 13.4 percent drop in index crime in Evanston for all of 2009 was considerably larger than the 4.4 percent decline the FBI reported in December for cities of over 100,000 people nationwide. The FBI report was based on incidents for just the first six months of the year.

The city numbers show fewer incidents in six crime categories and more incidents in the remaining two.

Crimes against persons

  • Murders dropped by half, from two in 2008 to one last year.
  • Criminal sexual assaults increased 40 percent, from five to seven.
  • Robberies declined by 30 percent, from 125 to 88.
  • Aggravated battery and assaults decreased 6 percent, from 159 to 150.

Crimes against property

  • Burglaries dropped 13 percent from 625 to 546.
  • Thefts declined 13 percent from 1986 to 1729.
  • Motor vehicle theft decreased 23 percent from 122 to 94
  • Arson cases increased 37 percent from 8 to 11.

Police officials credit the decline to weekly command staff meetings at which resources are redeployed based on a review of crime analysis maps and to efforts to exchanges of information with 27 community groups across the city.

Crime rates generally have declined in Evanston for at least the past decade.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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