(WASHINGTON) -- A new U.S. Justice Department study finds violent crime and property crime rates declined in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1973. Violent crime fell from 19.3 percent to 17.1 percent victimizations per 1,000 persons. The property crime rate fell to 127.4 percent per 1,000 households, from a 2009 percentage of 134.7.
The study takes into account reported and unreported crimes. In 2009, there were an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, including murder, sex crimes, robberies and assaults. There were approximately 15.6 million property crimes such as burglaries and car thefts.
Criminologists tell ABC News the notion that bad economic times always lead to spikes in crime is largely an urban myth. Police officials say the downward trend represented in the study released Wednesday reflects evolving policing tactics. Police are getting better at targeting high crime areas based on time of day and other factors and are locking up repeat offenders more often.
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