A surge in violent crime that began last year accelerated in the first half of 2006, providing the clearest signal yet that the historic drop in the U.S. crime rate is being reversed, reports the Washington Post. Reports of homicides, assaults, and other violent offenses rose nearly 4 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2005, says the FBI Uniform Crime Report. The numbers included an increase of nearly 10 percent for robberies, considered a leading indicator of trends.
Many communities, particularly those in urbanized areas, may be headed into a period of sustained crime increases, some experts said. While no one is certain of the causes, they cited an increase in the number of young men in their crime-prone years, diminished crime-fighting assistance from the federal government, fewer jobs for people with marginal skills, and the ongoing growth in methamphetamine use in some places. Car thefts and other property crimes dropped 2.6 percent overall, but burglaries, another key indicator, rose 1.2 percent. A Justice Department spokesman said an ongoing federal study of crime trends in 18 cities will help determine “what is causing this increase” and “which crime-fighting efforts are most effective.”