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Crime down in Gwinnett Village

LAWRENCEVILLE - Overall crime has decreased in the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District by nearly a third.

During identical five-month periods in 2007 and 2008, crime rates dropped by 29 percent, according to statistics compiled by the Gwinnett County and Norcross police departments.

Those numbers include 28 fewer entering auto offenses, 16 fewer motor vehicle thefts and 16 fewer residential burglaries.

"I think the reduction in crime is something very, very encouraging," CID director Chuck Warbington said. "The word's kind of getting out that it's a real hot area for police right now."

Last June, the CID started paying off-duty officers to patrol the area from 11:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. seven days a week. Warbington said the additional police presence, when combined with the police department headquartering its Quality of Life Unit in the Village and an increased emphasis on eliminating graffiti, has helped deter crime.

From Jan. 1 to May 15, 2007, there were 317 incidents in the Village. For the same period in 2008, that number dropped to 226.

Warbington said he was surprised that crime dropped in almost every area despite what has been seen as a worsening economy in the first part of 2008.

"That we're still getting that type of crime reduction is amazing," he said.

According to the statistics, there was one more murder in 2008 and three more home invasions. The number of rapes and carjackings remained stagnant, while crime rates dropped in 14 other categories that were tracked by police.

Warbington said people have begun to tell him that they feel safer in the area. While he said Gwinnett Village is often safer than people believe it to be, the perception of danger can be detrimental to the CID.

"We've got to continue to have a decrease in crime," he said. "If people don't feel safe, whether it's reality or not, you can't lease a building. It takes time, it takes effort."