NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Crime continues to fall in the United States, according to the latest FBI statistics.
Violent crime, which includes murder, forcible rape, robbery and assault, inched down at a rate of 2.2 percent in 2004 and the property crime rate fell by 2.1 percent.
The decline was led by major cities; those with populations greater than one million recorded a 5.4 percent drop in the rate of violent crime. Cities with populations between 500,000 and one million had a decline of 3.4 percent.
The Northeast compiled a 2.6 percent drop in the rate of violent crime, which led all regions. Crime in the West fell 2.0 percent, in the Midwest 1.5 percent, and in the South 1.2 percent.
Ten biggest cities
New York City continued to be one of the leaders in crime reduction. Violent crime incidents fell 6.3 percent there in 2004, including a drop in murders to 570 from 597 (4.5 percent).
The rate fell even faster in Los Angeles, which had 42,786 crimes of violence in 2004, down 12.4 percent from a year earlier. Still, despite having less than half of New York's population, LA recorded nearly as many violent crimes, including 518 murders, three more than in 2003.
San Diego, with only 6,774 in 2004, had the fewest violent crimes of any city with more than one million in population. Its rate of about 521 violent crimes per 100,000 population also topped the safe cities list. It was closely followed by San Antonio with 7,846 violent crimes and a rate of 654.
Detroit, with a violent crime rate of about 1,657 per 100,000, was the least safe of the top ten cities. It recorded 385 murders in 2004, 19 more than in 2003, and about 39 for each 100,000 residents. That was about eight times the rate of San Diego, which had only 62 homicides in 2004.
The FBI cautions against using these statistics to compare cities; results can be greatly affected by reporting errors or failure to report crimes at all. The Bureau's primary objective is to generate a reliable set of crime statistics for use in law enforcement administration, operation and management. The FBI does not rank cities itself; it merely provides alphabetical tabulations of crimes.
The rankings of the ten biggest U.S. cities
1) San Diego -- 524 violent crimes per 100,000 and a total of 6,774
2) San Antonio -- 654 --Total 7,846
3) Phoenix -- 676 -- Total 9,465
4) New York -- 687 -- Total 55,688
5) Los Angeles -- 1,126 -- Total 42,786
6) Houston -- 1,173 -- Total 23,427
7) Chicago -- 1,210* -- Total 35,106
8) San Jose --1,347 -- Total 16,165
9) Philadelphia -- 1,393 -- Total 20,902
10) Detroit -- 1,657 -- Total 15,913
*Chicago did not report forcible rape totals.