ELGIN, Ill. (CBS) — Crime in Elgin is at a 40-year low, but police said they’re also seeing a dramatic spike in burglaries, which shot up 31 percent last year.

As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, police said bringing that number down is now a top priority.

While walking the beat, Elgin Police Officer Steven Jones said he and other officers are on the lookout for “anything that’s different from the norm. … people who don’t belong there.”

Officer Ken Ericson said, “We’re focusing on burglaries that have been going on recently in the area.”

It’s a top priority for Elgin police, because the latest crime statistics showed, while overall crime in Elgin went down more than 16 percent from 2010 to 2011, burglaries went up 31 percent.

In 2010, 432 burglaries were reported in Elgin; in 2011, there were 564.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said that’s unacceptable.

Asked if it’s a problem in specific neighborhoods or throughout the city of Elgin, Swoboda said, “It’s all over.”

A popular target for burglars had been unoccupied homes, like one where officers discovered a broken window on Tuesday.

“It looks like some copper piping has been pulled from base board heat,” Jones said.

Swoboda said, “We’re going to get ahead of it … before it goes any further up.”

Swoboda said his department plans to do that by beefing up patrols, talking to residents and reassigning a detective to work solely on solving burglaries.

“We’re looking for common themes,” Swoboda said. “Most of these crimes are committed by people who commit this crime over and over and over again.”

The work has been paying off, with three arrests made and two arrest warrants issued so far this year.

Residents like Rodney Wilson said they welcome the increased police presence.

“They’re outside on the streets, so if anybody’s doing anything, they’re probably going to back off for a while,” Wilson said.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of taking two or three people off the street and we’ll see reductions in burglaries by the dozens,” Swoboda said.

But Elgin police said, no matter how many officers they put in the community or on patrol, there’s only so much they can do; and at the end of the day, they need the community’s help as well.

“They are really the eyes and ears of the police department,” Jones said.

Elgin police said another way residents can help them solve these burglaries is by registering their valuables online, so that police can track any stolen items if they turn up in a pawn shop or other re-sale store.

Watch & Listen LIVE