- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

The number of violent crimes reported during the first six months of this year including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault dropped by 1.3 percent compared with the like period in 2000, the FBI said yesterday.

The decline, outlined in a report by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, came despite slight increases in the number of murders and robberies reported nationwide by more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies.

Property crimes including burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft fell 0.2 percent when compared with data reported for January through June 2000. Arson offenses, which are part of a modified crime index, increased 2.9 percent for the first six months of this year compared with the like period in 2000.

Overall, the reported incidents of violent and property crimes nationwide fell 0.3 percent during the first six months of 2001 compared with the like period in 2000. Crime rates have declined steadily over the past decade and the new numbers suggest that the trend is leveling off.

Despite increases in the number of murders, which rose by 0.3 percent, and robberies, which showed a 0.8 percent increase, the violent crime rate dropped as a result of large decreases in reported forcible rapes, which declined by 1.7 percent, and aggravated assaults, which dropped by 2.4 percent.

In the number of murders reported, only one of the five cities with the highest number of homicides showed an increase during the first six months of 2001 compared with the like period last year. Chicago reported 276 murders this year, compared with 266 in the first six months of 2000.

At the same time, New York dropped from 341 to 300; Los Angeles, 248 to 238; Detroit, 196 to 175; and Baltimore, 141 to 137. The more than 3,000 deaths in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not included in the report.

In Washington, the number of murders reported during the first six months of 2001 was 85, compared with 126 during the same period last year. The FBI said the number of reported forcible rapes and robberies increased in the District this year over the same six-month period in 2000, while the incidents of aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson declined.

Nationwide, the FBI said the volume of property crimes varied, with burglary declining 1.2 percent, larceny-theft decreasing 0.4 percent and motor vehicle theft increasing 2.6 percent.

According to the FBI report, by city population groupings, cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants recorded the largest decline in the volume of violent and property crimes at 1.7 percent. The largest increase in the two categories occurred in cities of 250,000 to 499,999 population with a rise of 1.9 percent. Rural and suburban counties registered 1.9-percent and 0.6-percent decreases, respectively, the FBI said.

By region, the FBI said violent and property crimes fell 4.1 percent in the Northeast and 1.9 percent in the Midwest. The West recorded an increase of 1.6 percent and the South, an increase of 0.8 percent.

The FBI report is based on data from more than 17,000 local and state law enforcement agencies representing 94 percent of the U.S. population. Its objective, the FBI said, is to generate a reliable set of crime statistics for use in law enforcement administration, operation and management.

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