The introduction of «neighborhood police officers,» who have been on the beat in Greece’s two biggest cities since March, is paying off according to police statistics released yesterday which show a reduction in certain forms of crime in areas where the measure is in force. A total of 354 officers are currently on neighborhood watch duties – intended to boost public confidence in the force while deterring criminals – operating from 35 precincts in the greater Athens area and two in Salonica. In areas under the jurisdiction of the Athens precincts, there were 23.48 percent fewer muggings over the past two months, compared to July and August 2003, while the number of thefts and burglaries declined 5.5 percent. There was a minimal reduction – 1 percent – in car theft. Sixty more officers are currently being trained for neighborhood watch duties.