EAST CHICAGO | Overall crime in the city last year decreased by 6 percent compared to 2012 based on numbers reported to the FBI.
There were 1,731 property crimes reported in 2013, down 6.5 percent from the 1,851 reported the previous year.
Property crimes include arson, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft.
While vehicle thefts increased from 190 to 283, burglary instances dropped from 594 to 327.
Violent crimes held pretty steady, with 226 occurrences, up 4 from last year's total of 222 for a 2 percent increase.
Violent crimes consist of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
One troubling number was that murders in the city jumped from 4 in 2012 to 11 last year.
East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker hopes violent crime can be countered through the ongoing efforts of police, who have been walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors as they seek to gain public trust and cooperation in solving crimes.
The overall total of 1,957 crimes reported for 2013 marks the city's lowest total since 1995. Records prior to 1995 were not available, according to an East Chicago Police Department.
Becker believes a significant increase in traffic stops has played a key role in overall crime reduction.
East Chicago police made 10,600 traffic stops in 2013, as opposed to 3,717 in 2012.
"I'm very happy with the increase in the number of traffic stops," Becker said. "We're a very active police department."
He pointed out that the 10,600 traffic stops equaled almost 29 per day.
"And they're not giving tickets, necessarily, just making their presence known," Becker said.
He realizes traffic stops might not always prevent the eventual occurrence of crime.
"I may not be able to stop a crime from happening, but I can make it happen in a city other than East Chicago," Becker said.
He said the number of police officers in East Chicago has actually decreased from 101 to 85 since he joined the department in February 2012, but that the officers have stepped up to make their presence known.
Becker also credits the formation of the East Chicago STOP Team with creating a larger police presence in the city and reducing crime, along with efforts by Indiana University Northwest to provide crime mapping to identify problem areas in the city.
The STOP team, formed in April after the city approved overtime pay for police, made 1,160 traffic stops and 239 arrests and seized over $31,000 in U.S. currency in 2013.