Police have discovered a way to cut crime: Play bird songs.

Crime has gone down in Lancaster, California ever since the mayor started playing nature sounds–bird chirps, the sound of running water–in the streets. Mayor R. Rex Parris discovered this in the UK, and brought the idea home and he has been playing the sounds during the past 10 months for 5 hours a day, over 70 speakers set up along the main street.

In the Wall Street Journal, John Letzing quotes Parris as saying, "Everybody is now in a better mood, a better place."

Parris thinks the sounds actually change people’s brains. And it’s worked: Minor crimes fell about 15% last year, compared with 2010, and serious crimes fell about 6%. Letzing quotes him as saying, "We’re not seeing that impulse-control crime. It has just been astonishing to us how the community has changed as a result of a one-half-mile stretch."

Some of the local shopkeepers think it’s working too: Maria Elena Grado, who runs a cafe near speakers, says the area was "crime infested" when she first opened in 2006. Letzing quotes her as saying, "Everybody laughed at the idea, but people don’t even realize the things that make them tick."

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