WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crime levels fell last year compared to 2009, continuing a downward trend that saw a 5.5 percent drop in the number of violent crimes last year and a 2.8 percent drop in the number of property crimes.
Figures released by the FBI Monday also showed that there were declines in all four categories of violent crime in 2010 and all categories for property crime went down as well.
"In a word, remarkable," said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. In Fox's view, the declines signify success for aggressive law enforcement and corrections programs and comprehensive crime prevention efforts. He said the crime levels could easily rise if the current environment of state and local budget cutting extends to the law enforcement measures that are working.
Violent crime last increased in 2005. Property crime last increased in 2002.
The FBI reported that violent crime fell in all four regions of the country last year - 7.5 percent in the South, 5.9 in the Midwest, 5.8 percent in the West and 0.4 percent in the Northeast.
The bureau's preliminary statistics for 2010 are based on information from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies.
Nationally, murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 4.4 percent, forcible rape decreased 4.2 percent, robbery declined 9.5 percent, and aggravated assault was down 3.6 percent.
The downward trend for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was especially pronounced in the nation's smallest cities, where it went down 25.2 percent for cities under 10,000 people. Murder actually rose 3 percent in cities with populations of 250,000 to half a million.
In regard to property crimes, motor vehicle theft showed the largest drop in 2010 - 7.2 percent - followed by larceny-theft, which was down 2.8 percent and burglary, a decline of 1.1 percent.