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While considered the pre-eminent report on crime in the U.S., the FBI statistics on reported crime does have some limits. Its data is based on crimes reported to police, meaning it does not reflect crimes that may have been committed but were not reported.

Further, because the report relies on information reported from individual law-enforcement agencies, it is possible for an agency to improperly classify certain crimes as less serious in order to improve the agencies overall statistics. For example, an agency could potentially lower the number of “aggravated” assaults it reports to the FBI by simply classifying some as less serious “simple” assaults.

According to the report, violent crime dropped 5.3 percent last year — including murder, which fell by 7.3 percent, robbery by 8 percent, aggravated assault by 4.2 percent and rape by 2.6 percent. Property crimes fell 4.6 percent — including motor-vehicle thefts, which were down by 17.1 percent, larceny by 4 percent and burglary by 1.3 percent.

The report said victims of property crime aside from arson lost an estimated $15.2 billion during 2009.