Washington (CNN) -- After several years of slow decline, the number of violent crimes in the United States edged up during the first half of 2012, according to newly released FBI statistics.
The figures supplied by the nation's thousands of police agencies showed that overall violent crime increased 1.9% over the comparable period for 2011.
Officials say the preliminary figures provided for the first six months of the year frequently provide a guide to figures for the entire calendar year, which are released in the fall.
Despite the increase in overall violent incidents, the number of murders declined 1.7 percent, and the number of rapes dropped 1.4%. Those figures, however, were offset by a 2% increase in robberies and 2.3% hike in aggravated assaults.
Among property crimes, larceny-theft, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts were all up slightly during the first half of last year. The largest increase was in arson, which went up 3.2%.
Officials will not know until next year whether these initial figures for 2012 represent the beginning of an upward trend in violent crime or a blip on the chart, which has shown an almost continuous decline in crime over the past 15 years.