From USA Today Web

Serious reported crime plummets 10%

11/21/99- Updated 06:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The number of serious crimes reported to police plunged by 10% in the first half of this year, an unusually large drop that extended the nationwide crime decline to 7 1/2 years, the FBI said Sunday. Led by drops of 13% in murders, 14% in burglaries and 12% in auto thefts, the preliminary FBI report surprised experts. The overall crime figure declined by only 5 percent, 4% and 3% in the preceding three first-half-year reports. This year, among other violent crimes, robbery dropped 10 percent; rape, 8 percent; and aggravated assault, 7 percent. In other property crime, larceny-theft declined 8 percent. As for explanations, experts cited a series of federal, state and local anti-crime measures, a growing economy, the aging of baby boomers and the decline of crack cocaine markets.