The number of murders in the nation fell for the first time in five years, while reported rapes increased slightly last year, the FBI said today, according to the Associated Press. The number of reported violent crimes, which also include aggravated assaults and robberies, fell by 1.2 percent last year. Property crimes–burglaries, larceny/theft and car theft–dropped 1.1 percent in 2004. The FBI’s annual uniform crime survey is a compilation of crimes reported to local law enforcement agencies. Because many offenses are not reported, the FBI’s numbers on some crimes are notably understated. The FBI reported about 94,000 rapes last year, for example; the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ annual victimization survey, based on interviews with U.S. residents, estimated more than 200,000 rapes and sexual assaults annually in 2003 and 2004.
There were 16,137 murders in the United States in 2004. That was about 350 fewer than in 2003. Chicago was largely responsible for the drop, recording 150 fewer murders last year. The reported rape total has increased in three of the past four years. Despite the crime drop in recent years, the FBI’s “crime clock” shows that shows a violent crime is committed every 23.1 seconds. The FBI report can be seen at this site: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/