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Violent crime increases rapidly in first half of year

Violent crime soared 10 percent during the first half of the year as police in the nation's largest cities recorded a 20 percent increase in murders, the FBI reported Sunday. Overall, the number of crimes reported to state and local police departments increased less than 1 percent during the first six months of the year over the same period last year, the FBI said.

But the bureau's Uniform Crime Index reported that violent crimes _ murder, aggravated assault, rape and robbery _ went up 10 percent during the period that ended June 30.

The jump in violent crimes was the largest since 1986.

Murders increased 8 percent nationwide, but in cities with populations greater than 1-million they were up 20 percent during the period, the FBI said. Murders increased 10 percent in cities with populations between 500,000 and 1-million.

By region, the Northeast led the way with an 18 percent jump in murders, followed by an 8 percent increase in the West. Murders went up 4 percent in the South and 5 percent in the Midwest.

Rapes were up 10 percent, with the biggest increases occurring in medium-sized cities.

The number of rapes reported to police in cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000 went up 16 percent. Cities with populations between 250,000 and 500,000 reported rapes increasing by 15 percent.

Robberies increased 9 percent, and car thefts were up 6 percent.

Burglaries declined 5 percent, and thefts were down 1 percent.

Suburban areas posted an 8 percent jump in violent crimes, including a 1 percent increase in murders. The increase in violent crime also reached rural areas, where the rate rose 3 percent.