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Survey shows rates of violent and property crime dropped in 2009

By Carol Cratty, CNN
  • The latest numbers continue a long trend
  • The National Crime Victimization Survey asks about both reported and unreported crimes
  • Only about half of violent crimes and 40 percent of property crimes are reported, it says

Washington (CNN) -- Although those who were victims of crime last year might not believe it, both violent and property crime declined in 2009, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Last year's violent crime rate dropped from 19.3 to 17.1 per 1,000 people. That result was the lowest since 1973, when the Bureau of Justice Statistics began the survey of non-fatal crime. The survey asks people about crimes they have reported as well as those they have not.

Property crimes such as burglaries and motor vehicle theft decreased from 134.7 to 127.4 incidents per 1,000 people. That is less than a quarter of the more than 553 in 1975.

But there were still millions of crimes in America. The survey said there were an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes such as rape and assault. There were 15.6 million property crimes like burglaries, and 133,000 personal thefts like stolen purses and picked pockets.

The survey found only about half of all violent crimes and 40 percent of property crimes were reported to the police.

Men were more likely than women to be the victim of robbery or aggravated assault. Women were more likely to suffer rape or sexual assault.

Survey results over a 10-year period show violent crime plummeted 39 percent while property crime declined 29 percent.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, which unlike the survey includes fatal crimes, also found violent and property crimes officially reported to police dropped in 2009.