WASHINGTON (AP) -- Serious crime declined nationwide for the ninth straight year in 2000, but violent crime in Minnesota increased 5.7 percent, according to the FBI's uniform crime report.
The increase is the first for Minnesota since the early 1990s and occurred despite Minneapolis' progress in reducing violent crimes. In the first half of this year, murders, rapes and aggravated assaults fell by 12 percent in the state's largest city.
FBI data showed a statewide increase in murders from 134 in 1999 to 151 last year, including previously reported increases from 14 to 20 in St. Paul and 47 to 50 in Minneapolis.
St. Paul reported a 1.7 percent hike in serious crime last year, including a 14 percent increase in aggravated assaults.
Other cities also saw increases: In Rochester, aggravated assaults rose from 91 to 167 and robberies from 38 to 54.
In Minneapolis, the FBI survey figures for 2000 registered overall drops in violent crimes from 1999 figures: Forcible rapes were down 6.9 percent, robberies 7.1 percent and aggravated assaults 15.5 percent.
Statewide, violent crimes during the same period posted marked increases: Forcible rapes were up 9.9 percent, larceny 4.4 percent and aggravated assault 10.1 percent.
The FBI crime tabulation for 2000 amounted to the narrowest nationwide crime decrease since 1991, perhaps ending a run in which crime rates plummeted 30 percent in many places.
Still, the 0.1 percent drop in murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults resulted in the lowest total since 1985, the bureau said.
The FBI released the official 2000 data as Americans tried to adjust to a new kind of violent threat: terrorism.
An annual Gallup crime poll released Monday found that Americans feel safer from conventional crime than they have in more than 30 years, but that they are more fearful about terrorism. The survey suggested that one fear may have sup- planted another.
Candace Kruttschnitt, a University of Minnesota sociologist, said job losses from the sinking economy are likely to fuel crime, particularly because growing numbers of prison inmates are due for release soon.
"If all these people are going to be released back into the population who've been sitting in jails ... don't have jobs, that's not going to bode well for the country," she said.
Skeptics caution against using the FBI crime survey as the sole measure of criminal behavior, because it tracks only offenses reported to police. Victimization studies have found that fewer than half of violent crimes are reported.
Kruttschnitt said that heightened public awareness about terrorism could both discourage criminal activity and increase arrests -- which would drive up the crime index.
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