- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Crime in the United States increased during the first six months of 2002 compared with the like period last year, after more than eight years of consecutive declines, the FBI said yesterday.
According to preliminary data released by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, the number of crime-index offenses reported to law enforcement authorities nationwide between Jan. 1 and June 30 increased by 1.3 percent, compared with the like period in 2001.
The crime index includes reported cases of murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft and motor-vehicle thefts. During the first six months of this year, 9,309 police agencies reported a total of 206,822 crime-index offenses.
The report gave no reason for the rise in crime nationwide, although some analysts have cited the country's slumping economy as a factor.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and outgoing chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, said that the rising crime rate and the wave of corporate scandals demonstrate a "clear need" for more effective law enforcement across the board.
"The rise in crime comes at a time when Attorney General [John] Ashcroft faces the challenge of refocusing his department, now that the new Department of Homeland Security will be taking over the lead role in preventing further acts of terrorism," he said.
"Preventing terrorism still needs to be the top priority overall, but the creation of the new department means it's also time for stronger efforts to curb these rising crime rates," he said.
According to the FBI report, Washington, D.C., saw an increase in the number of murders reported during the first six months of 2002 over last year, a jump from 86 to 107; forcible rapes rose from 83 to 110; robberies from 1,687 to 1,929; and burglaries from 2,008 to 2,399.
The District also reported declines during the first six months of this year in the reported cases of larceny-thefts from 10,378 to 8,282, and in motor-vehicle thefts from 3,541 to 3,455. The report did not list the number of aggravated assaults in the District this year.
In Alexandria, also included in the FBI report, the number of murders during the first six months of 2002 dropped from three to two, compared with the like period last year; forcible rapes declined from 13 to eight; aggravated assaults dropped from 101 to 100; burglaries declined from 269 to 235; and larceny-thefts were down from 1,899 to 1,708.
Police in Alexandria also reported increases during the first six months of 2002 over the like period last year in the number of robberies, from 76 to 94, and motor-vehicle thefts, from 319 to 322.
Nationwide, the violent-crime offenses of murder and forcible rape both showed increases in 2002 when compared with 2001 numbers, with murder increasing 2.3 percent and forcible rape, 1.8 percent. However, robbery showed a decrease of 0.4 percent, and aggravated assault declined 2.8 percent.
Overall, the FBI said, violent crime decreased by 1.7 percent in 2002, even though reported cases of murder and forcible rape both showed increases.
Los Angeles led the nation in the number of murders reported during the first six months of this year with 321, followed by Chicago with 277, New York with 270, Detroit with 184 and Philadelphia with 138.
Property crimes across the country increased by 1.7 percent in 2002, including 4.2 percent increases for burglary and motor-vehicle theft, and a 0.5 percent jump for larceny-theft. Arson offenses, tabulated separately, decreased 2.6 percent for the first six months of 2002 when compared with data from the like period in 2001.
Among the city population groups, the FBI said cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 and those with populations of fewer than 10,000 had decreases 0.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively in the number of crime-index offenses reported. Increases in crime-index offense volumes ranged from 0.2 percent for cities with 1 million or more inhabitants to 3.1 percent for cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999, the FBI said.
The number of reported crime-index offenses in suburban counties rose 3.6 percent, the FBI said, while in rural counties, the number of offenses decreased 1.9 percent.
By region, the West showed a 5.9-percent increase in crime-index offenses, and the South reported an increase of 0.6 percent. Decreases in the volume of crime-index offenses were noted in the Northeast, 2.1 percent, and in the Midwest, at 1.4 percent.

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