The most common crime for which Palo Alto police arrested juveniles over the past two years was petty theft, followed by possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.
The information came in a summary of youth arrests provided by the Palo Alto Police Department in response to a request from the Palo Alto Weekly.
In the more than 25-month period from Jan. 1, 2009, to Feb. 8, 2011, there were 454 arrests or citations of youth from ages 10 to 17, according to the police statistics.
Data as to how the numbers compare to those in other communities was not available.
Of the 454 arrests, petty theft, at 106, was the largest single category, with possession of an ounce or less of marijuana second, at 61 arrests.
"It's important to note that these are reported events," said the police department's Interim School Resource Officer Nanelle Newbom.
"Particularly with young people, a huge chunk of dangerous or destructive behaviors go unreported, in part due to our belief that children can and should be responsive to education, guidance and non-governmental discipline," she said.
Newbom said Palo Alto police rarely take a youth into custody following arrest. The vast majority of arrested minors are released to parents or guardians.
Follow-up is often through a restorative-justice model, involving community work, letters of reprimand or other forms of discipline.
In all marijuana-related categories, the number of youth arrests in the 25-month period was 75.
In all alcohol-related categories, the number was 54, with "drunk in public," at 38, the largest subcategory.
Other double-digit categories, in descending order, were burglary at 46; battery at 23; minor in possession of alcohol at 12; vandalism at 11; minor in possession of smoking instrument at 11 and grand theft at 10.
All other youth arrest categories were in the single digits over the 25-month period reported.
"The type of crime and age breakdown show that our young people get into serious trouble at an early age, where the intervention really has to be parent-driven," Newbom said.
"Once again, it's in the parents' and teachers' hands, which is why we need to keep supporting them in every way we can."
The police department is a co-sponsor with the Palo Alto Adult School of The Parent Project, a 12-week course offered twice a year for parents of "strong-willed" teens. For more information, contact the police department at 650-329-2274.