FBI: Violent crime on the decline

By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Crime dipped slightly for the first half of 2007, the FBI reported Monday, signaling a stop to a 2-year increase in violence nationwide.

Violent crime — including murders, rapes and robberies — dropped by 1.8 percent between January and June last year, the FBI's preliminary data show. Property crimes also decreased, including a 7.4 percent drop in car thefts and arsons by nearly 10 percent.

But violent crime appears to be rising, if slightly, in small cities and rural areas, the data show.

The FBI data, compiled from local and state police departments around the nation, offer a snapshot of crime rates over the six month period. The numbers will not be finalized until later this year.

Still, the data appears to end two years of rising violent crime rates, which increased by 2.3 percent in 2005 and 1.9 percent in 2006.

"The latest numbers from the FBI are encouraging," Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said. "The report suggests that violent crime remains near historic low levels."

Carr acknowledged some communities continue to face violence, and said the Justice Department "is committed to assisting our state and local partners in combating violent crime wherever it exists."

The data show that violent crime dropped dramatically in big cities with 1 million or more residents, where murders decreased by 6.5 percent and rapes by 14 percent.

Smaller cities and rural areas, however, saw a 1.1 percent increase in violence. And murder rates jumped by 5 percent in suburbs and by 3.2 percent in cities with between 50,000 and 100,000 residents, the FBI reported.

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