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Violent crime takes a holiday in New York City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City passed a day without a single report of a person being shot, stabbed or subject to other sorts of violent crime for the first time in recent memory, police said on Wednesday.

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The rare day occurred on Monday, near the end of a year when the city’s murder rate is on target to hit its lowest point since 1960, according to New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne.

Browne said it was “first time in memory” the city’s police force had experienced such a peaceful day.

While crime is up 3 percent overall, including a 9 percent surge in grand larceny police attribute to a rash of smart phone thefts, murder is down 23 percent over last year, the NYPD said.

As for a day without violent crime, experts said they could not recall that happening in recent memory. “In a city of 8 million people, this is extremely rare,” said Tom Repetto, author of ‘American Police, 1949-2012.’

There have been 366 murders in the city so far this year, compared with 472 at this time last year, according to the NYPD.

By comparison, Chicago, Illinois, a city of about 2,707,000 people that has been plagued by gang violence in 2012, has registered 462 murders so far this year, according to the Chicago Police Department.

In Philadelphia, a city of about 1,536,000 people, there have been 301 murders so far this year, the exact same number as this time last year, the Philadelphia Police Department reports.

Repetto attributed New York’s success to “pro-active” police department tactics, including its controversial stop and frisk policy.

While critics have charged that the dramatic increase in stops hasn’t led to a similar rise in gun seizures, police officials have countered that proactive tactics have made criminals think twice about taking their guns out on the street.

Reporting By Chris Francescani; Editing by Paul Thomasch