The violent crime rate in the United States went down in 2009 for the third year in a row and the property crime rate fell for the seventh consecutive year, the FBI reported Monday.

The decline last year amounted to 5.5% for violent crime compared to 2008 and the rate for property crime was down 4.9%.

The FBI collected the crime data from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.

According to the numbers, all four categories of violent crime declined compared to 2008 — robbery, murder, aggravated assault and forcible rape.

Violent crime declined 4% in metropolitan counties and 3% elsewhere, the FBI reported.

Nationwide, the murder rate was down 7.2% last year.

The largest decrease in murders — 7.5% — took place in cities of half a million to a million in population. The only increase in murders — 5.3% — occurred in cities with 25,000 to 50,000 people.

Robbery dropped 8.1%, aggravated assault declined 4.2% and forcible rape was down 3.1%.

“There are a lot of tools that are keeping cops two steps ahead of the crooks,” said Northeastern University criminology professor James Alan Fox.

Fox said the criminal justice system has done a good job of dealing with violence among at-risk youth, and police departments have better technology and other ways to gather information so law enforcement resources are used more effectively to investigate crime and apprehend offenders.

Source: USA Today AP

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