FBI: Vi­o­lent, prop­erty crime num­bers fell in first half of 2010

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JERRY SEPER

The nation ex­pe­ri­enced a 6.2 per­cent de­crease in the num­ber of vi­o­lent crimes and a 2.8 per­cent de­cline in the num­ber of prop­erty crimes from Jan­uary to June 2010, when com­pared with data from the same time pe­riod in the prior year, ac­cord­ing to FBI statis­tics re­leased Dec. 20.

The FBI’s Pre­lim­i­nary Semi­an­nual Uni­form Crime Re­port is based on in­for­ma­tion from more than 12,000 law en­force­ment agen­cies that sub­mit­ted three to six com­pa­ra­ble months of data to the FBI dur­ing the first six months of both 2009 and 2010.

The data showed that the num­ber of vi­o­lent and prop­erty crimes re­ported con­tin­ued to drop this year de­spite sig­nif­i­cant de­clines in the nation’s econ­omy — sur­pris­ing some ex­perts who his­tor­i­cally have seen crime in­crease dur­ing dif­fi­cult eco­nomic pe­ri­ods. While the FBI re­port does not list a rea­son for the de­cline, many ex­perts have at­trib­uted it to an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and in­creases in law en­force­ment fund­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, from Jan­uary to June 2010, all four of the of­fense types in the vi­o­lent crime cat­e­gory de­clined na­tion­wide when com­pared with data for the same time pe­riod in 2009. Rob­bery fell 10.7 per­cent, murder was down 7.1 per­cent, forcible rape de­clined 6.2 per­cent, and ag­gra­vated as­sault de­creased 3.9 per­cent.

Vi­o­lent crime de­clined in all city groups, with the largest de­crease, 8.3 per­cent, in cities with pop­u­la­tions of 500,000 to 999,999 peo­ple. Vi­o­lent crime also was down in both non­metropoli­tan and metropoli­tan coun­ties, with de­clines of 7.6 per­cent and 6.2 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

For the six-month com­par­i­son pe­riod, vi­o­lent crime fell in all four re­gions of the nation: 7.8 per­cent in the South, 7.2 per­cent in both the Mid­west and the West, and 0.2 per­cent in the North­east. The North­east was the only re­gion to ex­pe­ri­ence an in­crease in mur­ders, 5.7 per­cent. Murder de­clined in the other three re­gions — 12.0 per­cent in the South, 7.1 per­cent in the West and 6.3 per­cent in the Mid­west.

The re­port said prop­erty crime was down 2.8 per­cent na­tion­wide for the first six months of 2010 com­pared with data for the same months of 2009. Mo­torve­hi­cle theft dropped 9.7 per­cent, larceny theft fell 2.3 per­cent, and bur­glary de­creased 1.4 per­cent.

Prop­erty crime de­clined in all four re­gions, with a 3.6 per­cent de­crease in the South, a 3.1 per­cent de­crease in the West, a 2.5 de­crease in the Mid­west, and a 0.2 per­cent de­crease in the North­east.

Cities with 500,000 to 999,999 in­hab­i­tants ex­per ienced a 4.8 per­cent drop in prop­erty crime. In non­metropoli­tan coun­ties, proper ty crime in­creased 1.0 per­cent, but it de­creased 2.4 per­cent in metropoli­tan coun­ties.

Ar­son of­fenses, which are tracked sep­a­rately from other prop­erty crimes, de­creased 14.6 per­cent na­tion­wide. By pop­u­la­tion group, the largest de­cline in the num­ber of ar­son of­fenses (19 per­cent) was in the nation’s largest cities, those with pop­u­la­tions of 1 mil­lion res­i­dents or more. Ar­son also fell in metropoli­tan coun­ties by 21.6 per­cent and in non­metropoli­tan coun­ties by 19.4 per­cent.

Law en­force­ment agen­cies in all four re­gions re­ported fewer ar­sons, in­clud­ing de­clines of 17.6 per­cent in the West, 14.3 per­cent in the South, 12.6 per­cent in the Mid­west, and 10.2 per­cent in the North­east.

When the FBI pub­lishes crime data in its Uni­for m Crime Re­ports through­out the year, it warns against us­ing the fig­ures to com­pile rank­ings of cities and coun­ties. It said the rough rank­ings pro­vide no in­sight into the nu­mer­ous vari­ables that mold crime in a par­tic­u­lar town, city, county, state, tribal area or re­gion.

Con­se­quently, the FBI said, they lead to sim­plis­tic or in­com­plete analy­ses that of­ten cre­ate mis­lead­ing per­cep­tions ad­versely af­fect­ing com­mu­ni­ties and their res­i­dents. Valid as­sess­ments are pos­si­ble only with care­ful study and anal­y­sis of the range of unique con­di­tions af­fect­ing each lo­cal law en­force­ment ju­ris­dic­tion, the bureau said.

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