Overall, violent crimes fell by 4.4 percent and property crimes dropped by 6.1 percent, according to the data collected by the FBI. Crime rates haven't been this low since the 1960's, and are nowhere near the peak reached in the early 1990's.
The new figures show car thefts also dropped significantly, falling nearly 19 percent and continuing a sharp downward trend in that category.
The figures are based on data supplied to the FBI by more than 11,700 police and law enforcement agencies. They compare reported crimes in the first six months of this year to the first six months of last year.
The early 2009 data suggests the crime-dropping trend of 2008 is not just continuing but accelerating. In 2008, the same data showed a nearly 4 percent drop in murder and manslaughter, and an overall drop in violent crime of 1.9 percent from 2007 to 2008.
According to the FBI figures, reports of violent crime fell about 7 percent in cities with 1 million or more people. But in towns with 10,000 to 25,000 people, violent crime ticked up slightly by 1.7 percent.
Each city's data was different, but collectively pointed to less crime in every major category.
Nationwide, rape fell by 3.3 percent, and robbery by 6.5 percent. Arsons, which are subject to a variety of reporting standards, declined more than 8 percent.
The FBI's data for New York City shows 204 reported murders in the first half of 2009, compared to 252 in same period last year. By comparison, Oklahoma City saw reported killings increase from 26 to 32, the FBI said. Phoenix, Ariz., saw 10 fewer killings, dropping from 86 in the first half of 2008 to 76 in the first half of this year, according to the data.
Separate statistics compiled by the Justice Department measure both reported and unreported crimes.
On the Net:
FBI Crime Data: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/dec09/crimestats(underscore)122109.html