• Kyodo News

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2010 saw 1,585,951 crimes reported to or detected by police, down 6.9 percent from 2009 and declining for the eighth straight year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report Thursday.

Criminal cases fell below the 1.6 million mark for the first time in 23 years, the NPA said, and Osaka Prefecture came in second to Chiba for the first time in 34 years in purse-snatchings.

The number of murders, attempted murders and murder plots fell 2.5 percent to 1,067, hitting a postwar low for the second consecutive year.

The statistics cover violations of the Penal Code and 13 other criminal laws, excluding traffic accident-linked crimes.

NPA Commissioner General Takaharu Ando told reporters that public order and safety continues to improve, but more needs to be done.

The report said that of 497,389 criminal cases processed, down 8.7 percent, suspects arrested or identified numbered 322,651, down 3.1 percent. The rate of arrests came to 31.4 percent, down 0.6 percentage point.

The number of snatch-and-grab offenses fell sharply by 23.5 percent to 14,559 cases thanks to various preventive steps taken nationwide.

Osaka Prefecture, which had ranked first for such cases over the past 34 years, dropped to second place with 2,136, falling below Chiba, which registered 2,188.

Convenience store robberies declined 19.4 percent to 723, while crimes such as fraud and embezzlement also decreased 16.3 percent to 44,363 cases, largely because of a decline in billing fraud.

Sexual assault and public indecency cases rose 5.1 percent to 7,028, snapping a six-year slide through 2009.

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