But the annual report also noted a rash of stealing and recent tragic deaths of children.
Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Tim Dolan gave their annual take on the city's crime rate on Friday, proudly pointing to a 6 percent drop in violent crime while acknowledging that a rash of stealing has pushed the city's overall crime rate up 4 percent.
Their annual news conference came almost two weeks after the shooting death of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes Jr., one of four children killed in shootings in recent months.
"We've had some very, very tough moments this year," Rybak said, naming each of the four children. The most recent death occurred when a stray bullet came through the wall of Terrell's house Dec. 26 and hit him in the head. The investigation of his death continues and no arrests have been made, Dolan said.
The deaths put a terrible end to a year that otherwise saw improvements in three violent crime categories: homicide, rape and aggravated assault, according to the city. The drop puts the city on par with a violent crime rate not seen since 1983, Rybak pointed out.
The city's overall crime rate rose, however, as robbery, burglary, larceny and arson all went up. Burglary and larceny together account for much of the city's crime rate, since they occur more often than any other category of serious crime. A rise in either of those categories usually means a rise in the overall rate, and this year burglary rose 6 percent, from 4,801 cases in 2010 to 5,103 last year; larceny rose 8.6 percent from 11,336 cases in 2010 to 12,311 cases last year.
Dolan and Third Precinct Inspector Lucy Gerold urged the public to take precautions to prevent thefts, including closing garage doors, taking electronics like GPS devices and cellphones out of cars and locking their doors at home. Dolan also urged people to write down the serial numbers of their electronics, which can help police recover items if they're stolen.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747