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Metro

Serious crime in Cambridge drops to lowest mark in almost 50 years, police say

Serious crime in Cambridge fell by 3 percent in 2012, sinking to the lowest mark in ­almost 50 years, the city’s Police Department reported Thursday.

Violent crimes fell from 436 in 2011 to 414 in 2012, contributing to a trend that has led to an overall drop in crime of 21 percent over the past decade, the department said.

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The number of crimes report­ed in the city fell from 3,567 in 2011 to 3,478 last year, which is the lowest total in the city since 1963.

“We are proud that crime continued to decline in 2012,” Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas said in a press release announcing the 2012 crime statistics. “But we’re not only focused on the numbers; we realize that a reduc­tion in crime means fewer people are being victimized in our city and that is what is truly important.”

The only homicide reported in the city in 2012 was the shooting death of Charlene ­Holmes, a 16-year-old student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School who was killed on ­Willow Street in June. In 2011, there were five homicides.

The number of rapes was steady at 23, while robberies fell from 147 in 2011 to 128 last year. Aggravated ­assaults increased by one from the 2011 total of 261.

Property crimes also fell by 2 percent, dropping from 3,131 in 2011 to 3,064 last year, ­police said.

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Larcenies from a person, commonly referred to as pickpocketing, saw the biggest ­increase in reported crimes, jumping by 15 percent from the 320 reported in 2011 to 368 ­reported last year.

Police issued an advisory earlier in January warning residents of the recent uptick in pickpocketing, especially in Harvard Square.

Overall, larcenies remained essentially even with 2011 levels, but burglaries dropped by 4 percent and automobile thefts dropped by 26 percent.

The department’s analysis and use of crime data were key factors in the drop, Haas said.

“We examine every report to find trends in the data which help drive our resources,” Haas said. “By giving our officers this information, they have done an exceptional job of working to break patterns before they are able to fully materialize.”

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.

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