LIVINGSTON — It's not Mayberry, but judging by one decreasing crime statistic, it may be hard to tell the difference.
For several months, the Livingston Police Department has pushed to reduce burglaries. Last month, that number dropped to zero.
Chief Ruben Chavez said that figure is the result of a combination of several factors, such as educating the public, encouraging residents to report suspicious activity, making some key arrests and doing saturation patrols in problematic parts of town.
Within three months after the Police Department started its campaign to reduce burglaries in May, 16 suspects have been arrested -- many of them prolific burglars, he said.
Getting career criminals off the streets has helped bring down the burglary rate.
Chavez credited his officers and dispatchers for the drop-off in burglaries. He said they're going to keep the pressure on.
"We're not resting on our laurels," Chavez said.
So far in March, there's been one burglary, he noted. Burglaries spiked to nine in December because of the holidays, but fell off to four in January, then zero in February.
A few years ago, burglaries were the No. 1 complaint among residents, said Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra. It got so bad a few years ago, many residents simply stopped reporting them, he said.
Samra's encouraged by the recent statistics. "Anytime crime goes down, that's a good thing," he said.
Councilman Jim Soria, a retired police officer, has had his vehicle burglarized and understands the frustration that goes along with it.
Luckily for him, most of his property was recovered.
Though the burglary rate in Livingston can't get much better, Soria is hoping the numbers stay down.
"That's a great accomplishment by the chief of police and the police officers to stay proactive to keep the burglaries down," he said. "I hope the trend continues."
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March: 18 (Ruben Chavez takes over as police chief)
March to date: 1