ANTIOCH -- Thanks largely to a sizable dip in the number of reported aggravated assaults and burglaries, this city saw its crime rate drop 7.5 percent in 2013 compared with the year before.

The decline, however, comes after a crime-heavy 2012, and the numbers are higher than in years past, which still has residents uneasy.

"Overall, our crime is still up over the last five years, and that's a number that we need to bring back down," police Chief Allan Cantando told about 100 residents at a recent "Coffee With the Cops" meeting.

Violent crime reports decreased by about 11.4 percent, mostly because the number of aggravated assaults fell from 657 to 557. Reported nonviolent property crime dropped roughly 6.7 percent, buoyed by a 22.4 percent drop in residential burglaries, which had spiked over the previous four years.

Cantando attributes the drop in aggravated assaults and burglaries to a combination of targeted enforcement and community involvement.

A set of 13 "proactive details" held throughout the year netted many arrests, which likely took some responsible for multiple crimes off the streets, he said.

More Antioch residents have become active in Neighborhood Watch, reported suspicious activity and galvanized on social media.

"If you look at Facebook, there are so many residents going above and beyond," Cantando said. "(Residents) being out there cleaning up blight and graffiti helps reduce gang activity, which can lead to bad things like assaults and drug dealing."

Even so, several residents at the Jan. 29 meeting said they don't feel safe -- particularly in some areas of the city. Most lauded police for their hard work, but said their hands are full given limited staffing.

"(Given police staffing), it's important that citizens continue to step up. It's crucial," said Judy Pence, a 26-year resident.

Antioch has "deteriorated" from the quiet, safe community it used to be, she said.

John Strickland, who started a Neighborhood Watch in his area off Shannondale Drive, said more emphasis must be placed on adding code enforcement to address homeless encampments and illegal dumping.

"There are tons of people who are proud of this city and care. It's frustrating that there a few (people) who don't," he said.

That's why Lori Cook started the Facebook page "Cleaning Up Antioch, One Home At a Time," where members post pictures of substantial piles of trash and blighted properties.

"I think we've hit bottom. People are just really tired of seeing the garbage and saying it's somebody else's problem," she said. "The attitude is we have to take it upon ourselves to do something."

Panhandling, traffic and questions about police response were also brought up at the meeting. Residents should not think they "are being pests" and call when they have issues, Cantando said.

Meanwhile, help is soon on the way for Antioch's short-staffed police.

Six veteran sworn officers are set to be hired this month, bringing the department up to 89 sworn officers.

Antioch police staffing has hovered around 85 sworn officers the past three years.

"To be able to bring on more officers, it's not only going to increase the morale of our officers but also allow us to increase the number of proactive details we can do," Cantando said. "Hopefully, that will impact our crime picture for the betterment of the community."

The department is authorized for 102 sworn officers, though, as with other agencies, hiring qualified candidates has been a challenge. Antioch police had 126 sworn officers in 2008, and a full complement of nonsworn staff.

A nonsworn community services officer is also set to start Monday, bringing the number to four.

More hiring will be possible because of Measure C, a recently approved half-cent tax, but that money doesn't start coming in to the city until August.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

Antioch crime statistics
Here are Antioch's crime statistics for the past five years.
Type of crime 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Homicide 5 13 5 10 12
Rape 40 32 21 29 25
Robbery 315 313 290 372 352
Aggravated assault 537 506 502 657 557
Burglary 824 1,087 1,335 1,741 1,351
Theft 1,082 1,049 1,571 1,920 1,872
Auto theft 747 960 967 1,096 1,217
Total crime 3,550 3,960 4,241 5,825 5,386
Adult arrests 5,398 4,047 3,754 3,186 3,137
Juvenile arrests 1,269 1,136 1,016 932 752
Total Arrests 6,667 5,183 4,770 4,118 3,889
Source: Antioch Police Department

Key Contacts:
  • To report suspicious activity, call the Antioch Police nonemergency number at 925-778-2441.
  • Anonymous tips can also be sent to Antioch Police via text by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and putting "Antioch" and any leads in the body of the text.
  • Residents can also search for crime in their neighborhood at www.crimereports.com.
  • For Neighborhood Watch information, call 925-779-6980
  • To report graffiti, call 925-779-6950.
  • To report illegal dumping, call Allied Waste at 925-685-4711 or 1-800 NO DUMPING.
  • To report abandoned shopping carts, call 1-800-252-4613 or go to www.cartretrieval.net.