- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Violent crime continued to decline in 2003 even though there was a slight rise in murders, according to FBI statistics released yesterday.

Crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault dropped 3.2 percent compared with 2002. Murders were the only category to see an increase, rising 1.1 percent.

Violent crimes have been dropping steadily in the past five years, particularly in the nation’s largest cities. The report yesterday showed a 6.5 percent decrease from 2002 to 2003 in these crimes in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants.

Decreases were reported in all regions of the United States, with the Midwest showing the steepest drop at 7 percent. The decreases were 3.2 percent for the Northeast, 2.7 percent for the South, and 1.2 percent for the West.

Attorney General John Ashcroft cited tougher law-enforcement methods and stiffer sentences for habitual criminals for driving down the nation’s violent-crime rate.

“Hard-core criminals are paying unprecedented penalties, and law-abiding Americans are enjoying newfound safety,” Mr. Ashcroft said.

The property crimes of burglary, larceny/theft and car theft remained virtually unchanged from year to year, the report said. Arson, which is measured separately, dropped by 6.9 percent compared with 2002.

The numbers come from 11,921 law-enforcement agencies across the country that take part in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The final report for 2003 will be released in the fall.

The preliminary report did not provide figures, only percentages, for the various crime categories.

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