Violent crime rises, especially big-city murders

WASHINGTON – Violent crime rose nearly 2 percent last year, the FBI reported Monday in nationwide data that show a slightly higher increase than expected.

The number of murders in 2006 increased by 1.8 percent over the previous year. In cities of more than 1 million people, murder jumped by 6.8 percent. The number of robberies and arson also rose, while the number of rapes and car thefts dropped.

The new numbers confirm that crime rates continued on a two-year upward trend after a relative lull from 2002 to 2004.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse cast the report as good news, pointing out that the rate of crimes per 100,000 people had declined to its lowest level in 30 years.

Overall, violent crime rose by 1.9 percent in 2006, slightly higher than the 1.3 percent reflected by earlier FBI data.

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