updated 1/12/2009 6:01:36 PM ET 2009-01-12T23:01:36

The FBI says crime declined in the first half of 2008, despite an alarming spike in small-town murders.

Violent crime nationwide fell 3.5 percent, and property crime dropped 2.5 percent, according to the bureau's preliminary figures released Monday morning.

Murders dropped 4.4 percent nationwide, though the drop wasn't universal. In mid-sized cities — those with 50,000 to 100,000 people — murder and manslaughter increased 3.3 percent.

Murders in small towns — those with fewer than 10,000 people — rose nearly 10 percent, the FBI reported.

In the Midwest, police departments reported a 6 percent drop in violent crimes. In the West, the decrease was 5 percent, while the Northeast saw a 2.9 percent drop and the South a 1.5 percent decline.

The slumping economy made it a bad year for car dealers, but 2008 was a bad year for car stealers, as well. Motor vehicle thefts plunged 12.6 percent, according to the FBI.

In big cities, forcible rapes increased 3.4 percent, while nationwide such attacks declined by about the same amount, 3.3 percent.

The latest FBI data indicates violent crime has fallen for a second straight year, after increases in 2006 and 2005. 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.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments