There were 56 fewer reports of violent crimes last year. Aggravated assaults declined by 19.6 percent, from 224 in 2005 to 180 last year. There also were 10 fewer rapes in 2006 than in 2005. None of the rapes were of the type in which an assailant targets a victim at random, Rothans said. Of the 10 homicides in 2006, seven were believed to be gang-related, Rothans said. All occurred between January and August, before extra anti-gang patrols were in place. Overall, Part 1 crimes – violent crimes plus property crimes – fell 7 percent in `06 from a year earlier, he said. Council members last April approved an additional $600,000 for the local sheriff’s station, allowing Rothans to hire the new two-deputy team, along with a third deputy assigned to nuisance abatement. That deputy responds to graffiti, loud parties and other quality- of-life issues. PICO RIVERA – Violent crime decreased 22 percent in 2006 from a year earlier, with murders declining by 33 percent, from 15 in 2005 to 10 last year, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official said. “It’s the work of the team,” Capt. Michael Rothans, head of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station, told City Council members Tuesday night. He was referring to last year’s hiring of two additional deputies that serve in a new anti-gang unit. Officials said deputies assigned to gang enforcement units made about 300 arrests from May and December. “By them taking that many people to jail, violent crime fell,” Rothans said. The city’s public safety director, Steve Gutierrez, said, “it worked. … The City Council recognized that it was important to increase public safety and they brought in additional resources,” he said. Some of the money also was used to label deputies’ patrol cars with the city’s name. Mayor Pete Ramirez said that has helped residents feel like deputies are working for them. “We needed more pride in the community with the sheriffs,” he said. “You have to have the trust of the public, and now that has grown by leaps and bounds.” Crimes involving stolen or damaged property, including robberies, burglaries, vehicle burglaries, arsons and others, declined by 4.7 percent compared to 2005, Pico Rivera Station statistics show. The only category that rose in 2006 was auto thefts, which increased by just 1 percent. “We had five more cars stolen. … But when you talk about where are we now, I think we’re in a very good place,” Rothans said. Residents can take steps to protect themselves from auto thefts, which rose from 498 reports in 2005 to 503 in 2006, Rothans said. “People go outside in the morning and start their car, then return to their house to get something,” said Rothans. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!