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For the fifth year in a row, the number of violent crimes reported to police agencies fell nationwide. According to an FBI survey, reported violent crimes fell by 3.8 percent last year to 1.2 million reports.
The total number of property crimes reported to law enforcement agencies also fell, by 0.5 percent, the ninth consecutive year that figure has fallen, reports the New York Daily News.
These declines in reported crime follow a near 20-year trend of drop in criminal activity, according to the FBI. Since 1993, violent crime has fallen by 65 percent, showing that the decrease is not merely a momentary blip in the numbers, the FBI says.
A closer look at the FBI survey reveals that the South accounts for most of the nation's violent crime reports, with 41.3 percent of the overall total. The West accounted for 22.9 percent, the Midwest 19.5 percent, and the Northeast 16.2 percent, reports the Daily News.
For serious crimes like rape, murder, robbery, and assault, the FBI survey shows a stunning decline since 2007. Murders fell by 14.7 percent, rape by 9.4 percent, robberies by 20 percent, and assaults by 13.3 percent.
While the FBI survey is very optimistic about crime trends, one still has to remember that the survey only accounts for crimes reported to police. Fewer than half of all crimes are actually reported to police, experts say.
In fact, the other measure that is frequently used to measure crime shows that crime actually went up by 18 percent last year. This measure looks at all crimes, reported and unreported, and indicated that crime drastically went up last year -- the first rise in nearly 20 years, USA Today reports.
So which is it? Is crime up or down? The two crime surveys provide some interesting information, but it is hard to gather concrete principles. Reported crime may be down --but then again, it's possible that fewer people may be reporting crimes or trusting police to solve their complaints.