- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2006

Violent crime nationwide increased by 3.7 percent in the first six months of this year, but property crime dropped by 2.6 percent, the FBI said yesterday.

The FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, based on statistics submitted by 11,535 law-enforcement agencies, showed increases in murders (up 1.4 percent), robberies (up 9.7 percent) and aggravated assaults (up 1.2 percent) over the same period in 2005. Forcible rapes dropped 0.1 percent.

Last year, the number of violent crimes increased by 2.5 percent, the largest gain in 15 years, and the Justice Department pledged to determine why the crime numbers were continuing to increase. A report on the matter has not yet been completed.

Washington was not included in the FBI report, but Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has declared progress in a renewed fight against violent crime in the city, which spiked in July — prompting the declaration of a citywide crime emergency.

Only two area cities reported data to the FBI for the report: Baltimore, which recorded declines in the reported incidents of murder (137 to 133), rape (79 to 77) and aggravated assaults (3,498 to 3,257), and Alexandria, which reported increases in the number of murders (1 to 6), robberies (88 to 109) and aggravated assaults (111 to 114).

According to the FBI report, the largest increases in the reported number of violent crimes, 12.8 percent, occurred in small cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999, while cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999 had the most marked increase in reported murder offenses, up 8.4 percent.

In the property-crime category, according to the report, the number of larceny-theft offenses decreased 3.8 percent nationwide for the six-month period, while reported motor vehicle thefts declined 2.3 percent. Only burglary offenses showed an increase, up 1.2 percent from the 2005 level.

Though reported property-crime offenses as a whole were down in all of the nation’s population groups, the report said the number of reported burglary offenses was up in all of the population groups with the exceptions of cities with 1 million or more inhabitants, where they declined by 1.5 percent, and the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties, down 3.7 percent.

According to the report, reported property crimes were down in three of the four regions. The Midwest was the only region to show a cumulative increase in the volume of reported property crimes, up 1.7 percent overall with increases of 5.8 percent for burglary, 0.7 percent for larceny-theft and 0.3 percent for motor vehicle theft.

The report said that arson offenses, which are tracked separately from other property-crime offenses, increased 6.8 percent nationwide.

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