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N.C. Crime Rate Falls; Murders, Rapes Increase

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's crime rate dropped 4.7 percent in 2002 compared to the year before, the Department of Justice announced Thursday, but the number of murders and rapes increased during the same period.

"The troubling trend we see with the 2002 crime statistics is that the most violent crimes -- rape and murder -- have increased," Cooper said.

There were 4,771 offenses committed per 100,000 people in the state during 2002, compared to 5,005 offenses in 2001, according to the department's annual uniform crime report.

The rate of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, decreased 6 percent statewide, the report said. But the murder rate grew by 4.7 percent and the incidence of rape increased 2.7 percent.

Property crimes, which include burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, declined by 4.5 percent, while arson increased slightly at 0.3 percent.

The statistics also suggest a rise in crimes against females. Advocate Marie French said there is no one reason for the increase.

"It's going to take nothing short of a cultural shift for us to see a reduction in violence against women," she said.

The number of juveniles arrested dropped 2 percent, while those under 18 arrested for violent crimes increased by the same percentage.

The report is accumulated from crime statistics presented to the Justice Department from state and local law enforcement agencies.

Greenville saw the largest decline among major cities with a 20 percent drop, followed by Gastonia with a 14 percent decline. Fayetteville saw a 6 percent increase last year, while Concord had a 5 percent jump.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg's crime rate fell 2 percent last year, while Raleigh's crime rate declined 4 percent.

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