FBI Reports Small Drop in Crime Rates


Overall violent crime decreased 1.4 percent last year in the United States, but the number of reported murder and rape crimes increased by 0.8 percent and 4.0 percent respectively, according to a preliminary FBI report made public June 16.

The FBI’s preliminary data for 2002 indicated a 0.2-percent decrease in the nation’s Crime Index from the 2001 figure. The Crime Index is made up of numbers on seven offenses, including violent crimes and property crimes.

Among individual violent crimes, the number of robberies in 2002 decreased 1.2 percent from the 2001 total, and the number of aggravated assaults declined 2.0 percent.The overall property crime total remained the same compared with the 2001 total.

Larceny-theft was the lone property crime showing a decrease, 0.7 percent, when compared to the previous year’s total. Burglary increased 1.5 percent, and motor vehicle theft went up 1.2 percent.

Arson offenses, included in the Modified Crime Index, decreased 3.7 percent.

The Northeast region reported a 3.3-percent decline in overall crime last year, the biggest decrease among all regions. The West was the only region to report an increase in overall crime—2.9 percent.

Among different cities grouped by their populations, the data showed those with populations of 250,000 to 500,000 experienced the biggest decline, 1.9 percent, in their Crime Index. Those with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 saw the biggest increase, 1.2 percent.

Overall crime had risen by 2.1 percent in 2001 compared with 2000.

Crime analysts suggested that the sagging economy could be the reason for the spike in suburban violence. But they cautioned that the spotty demographic and regional differences may simply indicate an adjustment in the usual cycle of crime that saw declines in all categories of major offenses during the past decade. The FBI report is based on numbers provided by police agencies across the country.

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