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For the third year in a row, our Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report shows that violent crime, property crime, and arson have decreased. The latest report compares January-June 2009 figures with the same time period in 2008.
Crimes reported to our Uniform Crime Program are down collectively: violent crime overall decreased 4.4 percent, property crime is down 6.1 percent, and arson fell 8.2 percent.
Individual crimes are also decreasing across the board:
* Murder (down 10.0 percent);
* Forcible rape (down 3.3 percent);
* Robbery (down 6.5 percent);
* Aggravated assault (down 3.2 percent);
* Burglary (down 2.5 percent);
* Larceny-theft (down 5.3 percent); and
* Motor vehicle theft (down 18.7 percent).
Other interesting highlights:
* Murder was lower in all four regions of the country, with the largest decreases in the Northeast (13.7 percent) and the West (13.3 percent).
* Motor vehicle thefts decreased significantly in all four regions of the country (Northeast, 19.3 percent; Midwest, 21.4 percent; South, 17.8 percent; and West, 18.2 percent).
* While violent crime and aggravated assault were down in cities of more than 1 million people (7.0 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively), in cities of populations between 10,000 and 24,999, violent crime rose 1.7 percent and aggravated assault rose 3.8 percent.
* While both metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas experienced decreases in violent crime and property crime in general, non-metropolitan counties saw increases in robbery (3.8 percent) and arson (1.2 percent).
* On a regional basis, the only uptick in any crime was a slight increase in burglaries in the South (up 0.7 percent)
Developing this national view of crime is a collective effort of the FBI and the thousands of city, university/college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies that submit the data to us. Participating agencies throughout the country voluntarily provide reports on crimes known to police and on persons arrested.
The data has become a source of information used widely by police administrators, government policy makers, social science researchers, the media, and others concerned about the impact of crime in our communities. We do, however, caution against drawing conclusions from our data by making direct comparisons between law enforcement agencies—valid assessments are possible ONLY with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.
The FBI has been collecting crime data from our law enforcement partners since the 1930s. Over the years, the scope of the program has expanded in response to suggestions from law enforcement advisory groups or to comply with federal mandates. Today, the culmination of this national data collection is three annual publications: Crime in the United States, Hate Crime Statistics, and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, as well as semiannual reports like this one.
The full 2009 Crime in the U.S. report will be released later next year.
No one is buying anything these days. Except for guns, that is.
Economic insecurity combined with the fear that the new administration could curtail access to guns, apparently has people packing heat. Background checks, which strongly correlate to gun sales, hit a record high in November and that number is still climbing.
In fact, sales are so brisk that an organization called the National Shooting Sports Foundation says that some handguns, semi-automatic hunting and target rifles are “outpacing inventory.”
Business is booming at gun shops across the country, reports CBS news correspondent Jeff Glor. And at his store, Moss says it's because of uncertainty fueled by the economic crisis.
"If the banks didn't have any money there'd be rioting in the streets," says Moss. "So you're protecting yourself from Americans going crazy, rioting, looting and hurting each other."
FBI statistics show that in November, 2008 firearm purchaser background checks increased 42 percent over the previous year. In December they were up 24 percent.
Moss says his sales are up something like 300 percent.
Moss also believes says fears that President Obama might make it more difficult to get a gun have led people to flock to his Norwalk, Conn. store.