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FBI: Violent Crime Decreasing

The FBI says violent crime is on the downswing.

Data released Monday show violent crime dipped slightly nationwide in 2007. That ended two years of increases in murders, robberies, and other kinds of the worst crime in U.S. cities.

An estimated 1.4 million violent crimes were reported across the country last year — about 10,000 fewer, or a 0.7 percent drop, than 2006.

The number of burglaries, car thefts, arsons and other property crimes also dropped by 140,000, or 1.4 percent. That marked the fifth year of property crime decreases, the FBI said.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the data are the result of crackdowns on gangs, drug dealers and gun crimes, and used the drop to call on Congress for $200 million in additional funding to continue such efforts.

Mayors across the nation have pleaded for years for more federal funding to combat violent crime. They expressed tepid support for the $200 million when Attorney General Michael Mukasey called for it in January, and said far more dollars are needed.

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.

Monday's results confirm what the FBI predicted earlier this year: that increases in violence nationwide have waned, even if not as much as originally thought. Preliminary data released in January showed a 1.8 percent drop in violent crime for the first six months of 2007 — a decrease more than twice as large as the full year's results.

The new data show that police nationwide made 14 million arrests in 2007, not counting traffic offenses.

From murders to carjackings, crime dropped in every category compared to last year, the FBI reported. Murders decreased by 0.6 percent, for example, as did larcenies and thefts. Rapes dropped by 2.5 percent to the lowest levels since 2000.

Except for arsons, property crime accounted for $17.6 billion in losses to victims, the data show. Police reported an estimated 9.8 million property crimes in 2007.