December 20, 2010 / 3:33 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. crime down in 2010, FBI reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Murders and other violent crimes in the United States fell sharply in the first six months of 2010, part of a downward trend that has lasted 3-1/2 years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday.

It said preliminary January-through-June figures showed the overall number of violent crimes reported by police agencies nationwide fell 6.2 percent, with a 7.1 percent drop in murders and similar declines for rapes, robberies and assaults.

The FBI’s report did not provide any reason for the lower crime rate. But the latest numbers provided further evidence that the feared spike in crime, reflecting tough economic times and high unemployment in big cities, has not occurred.

Some police groups are now more worried that cash-strapped cities and states have been and will be forced to layoff large numbers of police officers, which could lead to more crime.

Reported violent crime incidents fell in all four regions of the country, with just a 0.2 percent drop in the Northeast and more than 7.0 percent declines in the other three areas.

The Northeast was the only region to experience an increase in murders, up 5.7 percent. Murders declined by 12.0 percent in the South, 7.1 percent in the West and 6.3 percent in the Midwest.

Cities with 500,000 to 1 million residents recorded the greatest decline in reported violent crimes at 8.3 percent. Violent crime showed similar drops in both metropolitan and more rural counties.

The FBI also reported that so-called property crimes, such as burglary, larceny, theft and motor vehicle theft, posted a 2.8 percent decrease in the first half of the year, marking 7-1/2 years of declines for this category.

The report is based on crime information from more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Vicki Allen

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