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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pittsburgh shows slight drop in major crimes in '07

Crime in Pittsburgh dropped in most major categories last year, mirroring nationwide declines in both violent and property offenses, according to FBI statistics released this week.The FBI's preliminary Uniform Crime Report shows 3,455 violent crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- reported in Pittsburgh last year, a slight decrease of about 0.52 percent, down from 3,473 in 2006. Violent crime nationwide dropped 1.4 percent. Property crime -- burglary, theft and car theft -- fell by 8.6 percent in the city and 2.1 percent nationwide.

But while aggravated assault dropped 1.2 percent nationally, the report shows a 5.3 percent uptick locally. The number of rapes also rose. It's hard to say what caused the increase, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said yesterday.

"It's still a very vicious and violent society," Chief Donaldson said. Nevertheless, he noted that the number of gun-related aggravated assaults dropped from 660 in 2006 to 509 in 2007, thanks in part to ongoing police efforts to pull illegal firearms from the streets. Pittsburgh police arrest about 600 people for possessing illegal firearms and recovered more than 1,000 guns, but those numbers haven't changed much over the past five years, he said.

Police saw an increase in aggravated assaults with knives and situations where objects such as rocks were thrown at occupied vehicles, but, again, it was unknown why, Chief Donaldson said.

The FBI reported 53 homicides in 2007, but the Police Bureau reported there were 57 last year. Chief Donaldson said such discrepancies could be due to differences in the way the agencies classify certain crimes. The FBI's report includes totals for the city only and could change by the time final statistics are released later this year. [Mark Godsey]

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