Violent Crime Rate Rises

Murder, rape and every other violent criminal act except aggravated assault rose last year, the FBI said Monday in reporting the first year-to-year increase in overall crime in a decade.

The number of murders increased for the second straight year, following several years of decline, according to the FBI, which compiles its annual survey from crimes reported by 17,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The 15,980 murders represented a 2.5 percent increase over 2000, while forcible rapes were up less than 1 percent and robberies rose 3.7 percent. Aggravated assaults fell by a half-percentage point, reaching its lowest level since 1987.

The FBI did not include the Sept. 11 deaths at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. These deaths, the FBI said, "are different from the day-to-day crimes committed in this country."

The report listed the total number of Sept. 11 murder victims reported by law enforcement agencies as 3,047. Of those, 2,823 occurred at the World Trade Center, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 in Somerset County, Pa., the FBI reported.

The total number of crimes rose 2.1 percent last year, the first increase from year to year since 1991, the FBI said. But overall crime still is down 10 percent compared with 1997, according to the report.

Property crimes such as burglary, larceny and arson, with no threat of violence, rose 2.3 percent, to 10.4 million cases. The total value of stolen property was pegged at $17.1 billion, with motor vehicles and jewelry accounting for the most money. About a third of stolen property was recovered.

The FBI report differs from a survey done earlier this year by the Justice Department, which identified a drop in all violent crimes except murder in 2001, based on interviews with victims. Murder is not included in that survey, and the FBI cautions against comparing the two reports.

Despite the increase in murders, the FBI said the overall number still is down nearly 33 percent from 1992. Murder accounts for only about 1.1 percent of the nation's violent crime, with aggravated assault making up about two-thirds of the cases and robbery another 29 percent.

There were 6,750 white murder victims, 6,446 who were black, with the remainder a mix of other or unknown races. Men were far more likely than women to be murdered.

Firearms accounted for 8,719 slayings, or about two-thirds, followed by knives, "personal" weapons such as fists and feet, blunt objects and such methods as drugs, strangulation and drowning. There were 10 murders-by-poison in the United States last year, according to the FBI.

Police were able to make arrests in about 20 percent of all cases. They did better with violent crimes, solving 46 percent, including two-thirds of all murders. Burglaries remain the toughest cases to crack, with just 13 percent of offenses resulting in arrests.

There were more than 2.3 million arrests for crimes tracked by the FBI in 2001, down less than 1 percent from the year before.