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FBI: Crime Falls, But Small Town Violence Rises

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WASHINGTON — Cities in the United States got safer in 2008, while small towns grew more dangerous, according to FBI data released Monday.

The FBI says violent crime nationwide dropped by 2.5 percent last year. Property crimes also fell, by 1.6 percent, according to the preliminary data collected by the FBI.

Cities with more than 1 million people saw murders fall by 4.3 percent; cities with 500,000 to 1 million people saw murders fall by nearly 8 percent.

Yet in towns with fewer than 10,000 residents, murders rose 5.5 percent, rape increased 1.4 percent, and robbery 3.9 percent.

The latest data shows violent crime fell for a second straight year, after increases in 2006 and 2005. Those two years, the crime rate began to rise after historic lows that began during the Clinton administration and continued into President Bush's first years in the White House.

Nationwide, murder and manslaughter dropped 4.4 percent in 2008. Aggravated assault declined 3.2 percent, forcible rape decreased 2.2 percent, and robbery dropped 1.1 percent. The country also saw a huge drop in car thefts _ more than 13 percent.

The western region of the country saw the biggest declines, with a 4.2 percent drop in property crime and a 3.4 percent drop in violent crime. The Northeast saw a slight increase in property crime, which rose by 1.6 percent.

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On the Net:

FBI Crime Statistics Report: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/june09/ucr_statistics060109.html

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