Published: Dec 20, 2010 8:17 PM EST
Updated: Dec 20, 2010 5:17 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - Reports of violent and property crimes continued to decline in the first half of 2010, according to preliminary crime report released by the FBI Monday.

The FBI's semiannual uniform crime report shows that reports of violent crime dropped 6.2 percent from January to June and property crime reports were down 2.8 percent.

The dip in reported crimes follows a three-year trend of decreasing crime rates despite a sagging economy.

According to the FBI, murders dropped 7.1 percent in the first six months of 2010 while robberies decreased by 10.7 percent. Reports of vehicle thefts also dropped by 9.7 percent.

FBI crime reports have shown a steady decrease in crimes rates since 2008. In the annual report for 2009, released in September, reports of violent crimes dropped 5.3 percent and reported property crimes fell 4.6 percent.

Experts have been hard-pressed to explain the decreasing crime when a weak economy has put a continuing strain on local police budgets. Typically, crime rates increase as the economy falters.

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