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Orleans touts drop in 4th-quarter murders

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Figures released by New Orleans officials show overall crime down by just 1 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 - but they also show a significant drop in the final three months of last year. 

Statistics released Friday show that for the fourth quarter of 2012, overall crime dropped 8 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Fourth-quarter murders dropped by 18 percent. Rapes also were down by 18 percent in the fourth quarter while armed robberies and auto thefts dropped by about a third.

Assault was up by 16 percent, however. And theft was up by 4 percent.

New Orleans' downward trend in the murder rate appears to be continuing, with 11 people killed in New Orleans in January, compared to 25 in January 2012.

"When our overall crime numbers are down, as well as our most violent crimes- murders, rapes and armed robberies- we know we're on the right path, and that it's safer for our residents in their neighborhoods as well on the streets of New Orleans", Superintendent Ronal Serpas said in a prepared statement.

In a year-to-year comparison, rapes were down more than 16 percent, burglaries down 11 percent, auto thefts down nearly 13 percent in 2012. Armed robberies dropped by more than 8 percent and murder was down 3 percent.

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