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Violent crimes in the U.S. dropped last year and property crimes declined as well, according to the latest crime statistics and data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI reports that the decrease in violent crimes last year extends a downward trend for the third straight annual decline and a seventh straight annual decline for property crimes, Reuters reports.
The reduction in crime occurred despite a weak economy, which is often linked to spikes in criminal activity.
Crime statistics from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies around the country were collected by the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report.
Based on the numbers, all four categories of violent crime declined compared to 2008:
Nationwide, the murder rate was down 7.2 percent last year.
The only increase in murders -- 5.3 percent -- occurred in cities with 25,000 to 50,000 people.
Additionally, nonmetropolitan counties experienced a small increase as well, up 1.8 percent, the statistics showed.
As previously discussed, the FBI says it "doesn't interpret the data; we leave the number-crunching and in-depth analysis to criminologists, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other experts."
The goal of publishing preliminary information is to quickly get it into the hands of those who need it most--like local law enforcement and community leaders who are in positions to implement effective crime strategies, FBI officials said.
However, it's probably best to take the data with a grain of salt and not to draw too many conclusions.
The numbers for 2009 are preliminary. They will be updated later this year.
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