Reports of serious crime in St. Paul dropped in 2014, marking one of the lowest levels of crime in recent years, according to data released by police Wednesday.

Part 1 crime, which includes murder, robbery and aggravated assault, dropped more than 6 percent last year compared to the year before. Some of the largest declines in crime categories were in homicide, residential burglary and rape.

On Wednesday, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith attributed the drops to several factors, including the department's use of social media to connect with residents, officers' community policing efforts and the department's youth-related work.

Police districts regularly update their Facebook pages with crime statistics and alerts. The department's spokesmen also maintain a Twitter account.

Last year, officers knocked on residents' doors and engaged with neighbors at weekly community barbecues through the department's Safe Summer Night project. With community nonprofits, police also helped participate in the launch of a curfew center on the East Side.

"You take all these things into account that made a tremendous impact and it built trust," Smith said.

While overall serious crime was down, some categories of crime experienced an uptick last year. Auto theft rose by 14 percent and commercial burglary by 10 percent.

Smith said that he thought more education to remind people about ways to prevent crime, such as locking car doors and not leaving cars running even when it's cold outside, would help decrease auto theft. Commercial burglary saw an increase last year because of a couple prolific burglars who struck numerous businesses, but both people were caught, Smith said.