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NYC crime rate rises, but remains low

December 23, 2008 7:33:27 PM PST
The city's murder rate rose 5 percent this year after hitting a record low the year before, officials announced Tuesday. Murders and robberies both were the only major crimes to record slight increases in 2008; other felony crimes, led by an 8 percent drop in the assault rate, fell and the overall major crime rate dropped by 4 percent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday.

The city's crime rate has been dropping steadily for the past 18 years. Bloomberg said that the murder rate had dropped 21 percent since he was elected mayor in 2001, and the major crime rate was down 28 percent since then.

This year, 501 murders were reported in the city as of Sunday, up from 476 murders during the same period last year, officials said. Robberies rose 1.8 percent, compared to 2007.

The city recorded 496 murders for all of 2007, the lowest since it started keeping comparable records in 1961. It recorded the most homicides - 2,245 - in 1990, making it the country's murder capital.

Bloomberg credited the crime drop to "our determination to find innovative ways of turning up the heat on criminals."

Experts have said the city's CompState program, which tracks crime statistics on a daily basis, and the placement of most graduating police in higher-crime areas have helped reduce rates.

The city said crime overall dropped in all five boroughs - but not every precinct. The precincts that posted crime increases weren't immediately available, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

Crime on city subways and in public housing complexes fell by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively; burglary and auto theft dropped by 6 percent.

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