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New Jersey Man Sentenced for Cyberstalking

Department of Justice Press Release
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For Immediate Release
January 18, 2011
United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Contact: (215) 861-8200

New Jersey Man Sentenced for Cyberstalking

PHILADELPHIA—Matthew Bean, 20, of Bergenfield, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 45 days in prison and five years probation for a case of cyberbullying that included sending sexually explicit photos of another person to that person's school on January 26, 2009 and posting them on his own online page. The defendant took part in a web chat about the victim and the photos that included references, by others, to shaming the victim into possibly committing suicide. Bean pleaded guilty to stalking on September 15, 2010.

In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody ordered Bean to post a message on the pertinent chat board to let people know that cyberbullying is a crime and that law enforcement will pursue those who commit it, serve five years of supervised release, and pay a fine of $2,000.

"Technology has created new avenues for crime including many that target or involve children," said Memeger. "Today's sentence sends a message that we take crimes like cyberbullying and cyberstalking very seriously. People who attempt to harm others using the internet cannot hide in cyber space. Law enforcement will find them and seek to hold them accountable."

"We cannot, in 2011, underestimate the impact of bullying when it is enhanced by cyber means. Gone are the days of the proverbial "playground bully," as that playground has now expanded exponentially via the Internet," said Special Agent-in-Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. "The relative perceived anonymity of the Internet appears to empower individuals to say and do things they would not do in person."

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael L. Levy.

According to a report by the Office of Justice Program's Bureau of Justice Statistics, during a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking. The study measured behaviors such as unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. Additional findings included that approximately one in four stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83 percent); 30 percent of victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner; females are nearly three times more likely to be victims of this crime; and nearly three in four stalking victims knew the offender in some capacity.

President Obama designated January as National Stalking Awareness Month. The Department of Justice commemorated this designation today as a means to help raise awareness about the signs and consequences of this crime. Resources and information related to stalking awareness month are located at www.ovw.usdoj.gov and the Stalking Resource Center's National Stalking Awareness Month website at www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org.

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Army reserve component suicides rising

Army reserve component suicides rising

By Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown Army News Service

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Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, speaks to Army leaders about suicide prevention during an Army leader's forum at the Pentagon, Sept. 8, 2010. (Photo credit Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, Army News Service)
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WASHINGTON (9/9/10) -- While active-duty Army suicides are trending downward, reserve-component suicides appear to be on the rise -- a fact that worries leaders as the Army observes Suicide Prevention Month.

"We're seeing a really disturbing increase in reserve-component suicides," said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army at a Pentagon Army leader's forum. "I don't totally understand it, but we're working hard to try and get at it."

According to a recently-released study, more Soldiers died in fiscal year 2009 as a result of high-risk behavior than in combat. The Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention report was a 15-month study by the Army's Suicide Prevention Task Force on understanding the increasing rate of suicides among troops.

The report found a rise in high-risk behavior throughout the Army, an increase in prescription antidepressants, amphetamines and narcotics, and a boom in Soldiers seeking behavioral-health care.

The total number of suspected suicides across the Army in fiscal year 2009 was 239 with 1,713 known attempts. At press time, the current number of potential suicides in 2010 stands at 169 -- nine less active-duty deaths than during the same period last year.

Also, for the second year, the Army suicide rate has surpassed the national average with about 22 per 100,000 versus 19 per 100,000 across America.

"Suicide prevention is much more than thwarting that last final act of desperation," wrote Col. Chris Philbrick, the director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force in a press release. "It is increasing awareness and education in order to preclude members of the Army Family from ever getting to the point where suicide might be considered an alternative to asking for help."

The Army is engaged in a suicide-prevention campaign called "Shoulder to Shoulder: I will never quit on life." Part of the campaign is a new 15-minute training video which features candid interviews of Soldiers and Family members who have battled with suicide.

The Army has also partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health in a five-year, $50-million research program to better understand why Soldiers are ending their lives.

Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, the provost marshal general of the Army -- who was responsible last year for heading up the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force -- noted that suicide is not just an Army problem: about 32,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide each year, the third leading cause of death.

While Army leaders and mental-health professionals haven't been able to pinpoint exactly why suicide rates have spiked dramatically since 2001, McGuire said much of the cause may lie in nearly 10 years of war and transitional stress.

Transitions, such as re-locating to a new unit and base, deploying, coming home from deployments and the breakdown of relationships are all life changes that are hard on Soldiers, she said.

"Transitions are huge on individuals," echoed Chiarelli, who added that a Soldier in his or her first year in the Army is more likely to commit suicide than at any time.

In fact, 79 percent of Soldiers who commit suicide have either never deployed or been on only one deployment, Chiarelli said.

However, McGuire sees the decrease in active-duty suicides as a success, and links the push in suicide-prevention training and awareness to the downshift in numbers.

"I think all of it is helping ... the professional products, the emphasis on leadership, the resources that are available, the entire campaign has had an effect," she said.

McGuire said she would like all leaders to put an emphasis on Soldier accountability and focus on the basics of leadership.

"Soldiers need to understand that they are responsible for themselves and they need to abide by Army values and integrate them fully in everything they do," McGuire said.

She urged troops to take extra time to know their fellow Soldiers personally and be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide.

"If we truly are living by the warrior ethos, we really will look after each other," McGuire said. "We can't look after each other if we aren't also looking after ourselves. If we find that we need help, we need to seek it."

(Editor's note: If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide).

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LSD AND TODAY

Twenty years ago there was a resurgence in the abuse of LSD, a hallucinogen that first became popular in the late 1960’s. This odorless and colorless drug, also known as acid, has a high potential for abuse. While its primary effect is to give users a dramatic change in their visual perception, it also can result in extreme changes in mood, a distorted view of objects, sounds, touch and their own body image. Their ability to make sound judgments is also impaired, and the likelihood of experiencing extreme anxiety and depression is greatly increased. Hallucinogens, from LSD to PCP to Ecstasy, continue to be dangerous and illegal drugs of concern today.

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Detroit Area Strip Club Owner Pleads Guilty to Using Computer Software Program to Delete Club’s Sales in Order to Cheat on Taxes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Detroit Area Strip Club Owner Pleads Guilty to Using Computer Software Program to Delete Club’s Sales in Order to Cheat on Taxes

Nicholas J. Faranso of Farmington Hills, Mich., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.   For his role in the conspiracy, Faranso faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The court set sentencing for July 14, 2011.

 

­According to court documents, Faranso owned   two strip clubs:   BT’s in Dearborn, Mich., and Tycoon’s in Detroit.   From 2001 through 2004, both establishments used a computerized point of sales system which produced guest checks and electronically tracked and recorded sales.   Court documents reveal that, in 2001,Faranso purchased a computer software program called Journal Sales Remover from Theodore Kramer, a self-employed computer software salesman.   This computer software program was specifically designed to remove a portion of the actual sales from the computerized point of sales systems.   The program would make it appear that Faranso’s clubs received less income than they actually did.    

 

Faranso directed Kramer to put the Journal Sales Remover program onto his businesses’ computer systems in order to help the club owner cheat on the businesses’ taxes.   From about 2001 to about 2004, at Faranso’s request, Kramer made periodic visits to Faranso’s clubs to run the Journal Sales Remover program to remove a substantial amount of the actual sales from the computerized sales systems.   Faranso then provided the reduced sales figures to his accountant.   As a result, Faranso falsified the clubs’ tax returns by understating their gross receipts by more than $500,000. Kramer previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy on Nov. 17, 2010.

 

Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Tax Division, commended the IRS special agents who investigated this matter and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Kenneth C. Vert and Tiwana L. Wright, who prosecuted the case.

11-040
Tax Division

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Birds Fall From Sky in Falkoping Sweden

A large number of birds were found dead in Falkoping, Sweden, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Autopsies on five birds were completed by the Swedish National Veterinary Institute. Their findings were no illness, no external signs of damage or blows of any kind and no infection. However, the birds showed signs of internal bleeding, which ultimately killed them.

In similar cases, Arkansas had thousands of red-winged blackbirds and starlings fall from the sky on New Year’s Eve in the small town of Beebe.

Monday morning, at least 500 birds fell dead in Labarre, Louisiana, showing the same symptoms. The birds dying there were also starlings, red-winged blackbirds and sparrows.

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2 million fish found dead in Maryland

 

Baltimore :: MD :: USA | about 1 hour ago

Credibility Credibility of 5

Authorities in Maryland are investigating the deaths of about 2 million fish in Chesapeake Bay. "Natural causes appear to be the reason," the Maryland Department of the Environment said in a news release. "Cold water stress exacerbated by a large population

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"Private" Posts To Social Media Discoverable in Lawsuits?

January 04, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Every day millions of people log on to Facebook and MySpace to post pictures of adventures and everyday events, update friends on life's happenings, and express thoughts and feelings. While using these new online social media, most assume that since they selected "private" status for their accounts, and because they only share information and pictures with their friends and family, that those who are not meant to see this information won't. But this thinking may be flawed.

Consider the logistics of keeping private the sheer volume of information flowing from social-media sites. In its December 2010 selection of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year, Time Magazine cites daunting statistics:
- Facebook membership reached 550 billion this year (one of 12 people globally)
- Daily 700,000 new members join Facebook
- In November one-quarter of all U.S. page views were to Facebook
- Almost half of all Americans have Facebook accounts
- Facebook posts 100 million new pictures every day

Time's observation about online privacy is relevant to the topic of this article: "the Internet was built to move information around, not keep it in one place, and it tends to do what it was built to do." How realistic is it to think anything you post online even to a limited audience won't end up as evidence in a later lawsuit?

According to legal opinion pieces on FindLaw.com, if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, your comment and picture posts to social-media websites such as Facebook and MySpace may be discoverable as potential evidence by the other side, although jurisdictions are split on the issue. This may not be something you relish, whether you are bringing the suit or defending it.

New York Example

In Romano v. Steelcase Inc., a New York state personal injury plaintiff was compelled to produce "private" postings on Facebook and MySpace for discovery after the Supreme Court (trial court) in Suffolk County decided in September 2010 that the postings were "material and necessary" to the legal and factual issues surrounding the extent of her injury and how much it affected her enjoyment of life.

The defendant asked the court for access to Romano's postings because it believed the posted comments and photos could refute her injury claim and allegation that she had lost the enjoyment of life. The court agreed, noting that "the primary purpose" of social-media websites "is to enable people to share information about how they lead their social lives," and ruling that users have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" on social-media websites even when they choose more restricted privacy settings.

The court focused on the essence of a personal injury lawsuit. By filing, Kathleen Romano herself put her "physical condition in controversy." Interestingly, the opinion analyzed similar Canadian cases in light of New York's "liberal disclosure policy." The court also commented on both sites' warnings that whatever users post is at their own risk despite privacy settings.
California Federal Court Weighs In

The U.S. District Court in the Central District of California had a different view, holding in the May 2010 copyright case Crispin v. Christian Audigier, Inc., that the defendant case could not subpoena plaintiff's private postings on social-media websites. The court equated the privacy of a "friends only" access setting to that expected in an e-mail message, banking record or employment file. Had Buckley Crispin allowed his profile and posts to be viewed by "everyone," the court would have deemed the content truly public.

Reasonable Expectations

Remember, both Facebook and MySpace caution their users that the sites cannot guarantee the privacy of posted content. Indeed, common sense dictates that parents of American teenagers should already routinely warn their kids to remember that once something hits the Internet, the cat is out of the bag and that information may return to haunt. And that warning is just as important for adults, especially those involved in lawsuits that raise legal questions about physical, mental and emotional well being like personal injury suits and child custody matters.

While jurisdictions are currently split on what information posted to social-media websites is discoverable in a lawsuit, it is wise to remember Facebook's warning, "[y]ou post User Content ... on the Site at your own risk."

Article provided by Injury Law Center - Law Offices of Jack Bloxham

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11 Killed, 220 Injured in New Year's Holiday Crashes Investigated by Pennsylvania State Police

National Press Release  Back to Press Releases Index

11 Killed, 220 Injured in New Year's Holiday Crashes Investigated by Pennsylvania State Police

PR Newswire

Fatalities Increase Compared to Last Year, But Crashes and Injuries Decline

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 3, 2011, PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eleven people were killed and 220 others were injured in the 693 crashes investigated by Pennsylvania State Police during the four-day New Year's holiday driving period, Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski announced today.

"Although the number of fatalities jumped from six to 11 compared to last year's holiday driving period, crashes decreased by nearly 39 percent and the number of people injured dropped almost 24 percent," Pawlowski said.

He said 76 of the crashes to which troopers responded from Dec. 30, 2010, through Jan. 2, 2011, were alcohol-related, including four crashes that resulted in a total of five deaths. Six of the 11 people who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts, he said.

Pawlowski said troopers made 267 arrests for driving under the influence and issued 4,012 speeding citations during the holiday period. State police also cited 458 persons for failure to wear seat belts and issued citations to 42 drivers for failing to restrain children properly in child safety seats.

During last year's four-day New Year's holiday driving period, six people were killed and 288 others were injured in 1,131 crashes investigated by state police.

The crash numbers cover only those incidents investigated by state police and do not include statistics on crashes to which other law-enforcement agencies responded.

For more information, visit www.psp.state.pa.us or call 717-783-5556.

Media contact: Lt. Myra Taylor, Jack J. Lewis, 717-783-5556

SOURCE Pennsylvania State Police Department




Read more: 11 Killed, 220 Injured in New Year's Holiday Crashes Investigated by Pennsylvania State Police

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Dead blackbirds fall into Beebe city limits on New Year’s Eve

Dead blackbirds fall into Beebe city limits on New Year’s Eve

Date 01/01/2011
Description

BEEBE – Last night, ringing in the New Year took on a whole different meaning for the citizens of Beebe. Beginning at around 11:30 p.m., enforcement officers with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began getting reports of dead black birds falling from the sky in the city limits of Beebe.

Officers estimated that over 1,000 birds had fallen out of the sky over the city before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were still alive when officers arrived. The blackbirds fell over a one-mile area in the city. AGFC wildlife officer Robby King responded to the reports and found hundreds of birds. “Shortly after I arrived there were still birds falling from the sky,” King said. King collected about 65 dead birds that will be sent to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.

The AGFC has flown over the area to gauge the scope of the event. There were no other birds found outside of the initial area.

AGFC ornithologist Karen Rowe said that strange events similar to this one have occurred a number of times across the globe. “Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail,” Rowe said.

Another scenario may have been that New Year’s Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area may have startled the birds from their roost. The birds may have died from stress.

Rowe said that it didn’t appear as though the birds died of any poisoning or other event. “Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved them falling out of the sky it is unlikely they were poisoned, but a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin,” she said. Testing will begin on Monday.

The City of Beebe has hired U.S. Environmental Services to begin the cleanup and dispose of the dead birds. The environmental firm will go door-to-door to pick up the birds that are still in yards and on roof tops

Preliminary necropsies on the dead birds in Arkansas "showed trauma," said Karen Rowe, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission ornithologist. "The birds obviously hit something very hard and had hemorrhages." Beyond that, all the birds were healthy.

Among the speculation for the cause of death is that loud noises, perhaps from fireworks, frightened the birds and sent them crashing into buildings and other obstacles

Hundreds more birds found dead, this time in Louisiana

 Three days after thousands of blackbirds were found dead in Arkansas, some 500 red-winged-blackbirds and starlings were found dead along a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Louisiana, hundreds of miles to the south. The latest dead birds were found Monday near Labarre, about 300 miles south of Beebe, Ark., where thousands of birds fell from the sky on New Year's Eve.

State biologists are sending some of the Louisiana birds for testing in Georgia and Wiscons

 

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The Latest Stats Show a Continuing decline in crime

The Latest Stats
Show a Continuing Decline in Crime

12/20/10

We’ve just released our first peek into crime in 2010—with a snapshot of the first six months of the year.

The early returns are encouraging. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January-June, 2010, the nation saw a 6.2 percent decrease in the number of reported violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decrease in the number of reported property crimes compared to data for the same time frame during 2009.

The report specifically covers the violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault…and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. It also includes arson, which is considered a property crime but is tracked separately for this report.

UCR Data Tool screenshot
 

Check crime rates in your area using the
ucr data tool">UCR Data Tool.

Some of the preliminary findings:

  • Reported incidents of violent crime as a whole decreased in all four regions of the country—falling 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 7.2 percent in the Midwest, 7.8 percent in the South, and 7.2 percent in the West.
  • In the Northeast, reported incidents of murder were up 5.7 percent, forcible rapes were up 1.1 percent, and aggravated assaults were up 2.4 percent.
  • Reported incidents of property crime as a whole declined in all four regions of the country—dropping 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 2.5 percent in the Midwest, 3.6 percent in the South, and 3.1 percent in the West.
  • In the Northeast, however, reported incidents of burglary rose 3.9 percent.
  • Population-wise, cities with 500,000 to 999,999 residents saw the greatest decline in reported violent crimes (8.3 percent) and in property crimes (4.8 percent).

Since 1930, the FBI has been tasked with collecting, publishing, and archiving reliable uniform crime statistics for the nation. Our hope is that this report will continue to assist community leaders and law enforcement managers with formulating crime-fighting and crime prevention strategies.

Last month, we released a new tool to help these leaders and others analyze crime statistics over the past half-century. The UCR Data Tool, as it’s called, enables users to perform queries on custom variables like year, agency, and type of offense. Until now, making comparisons of our crime data required searching the annual reports and then manually crunching the numbers. The data from the just-released report is not included in the new tool, since it is preliminary and represents only a partial year.

Although many of the crimes reported in our UCR statistics fall primarily under state and local jurisdiction, the FBI continues to work closely with our law enforcement partners on numerous joint task forces around the country and to offer a range of services and support. A few examples include:

- Information services like the National Crime Information Center, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx);

- Fingerprint and other types of forensic identification services, such as our Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the Combined DNA Index System.

As always, we caution against drawing conclusions about specific locations by making direct comparisons between cities. Valid assessments are only possible by carefully analyzing the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.

The full-year Crime in the United States, 2010 report will be released next year.

Resources:

- Press release

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FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2010

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2010

Washington, D.C. December 20, 2010
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
— filed under: Press Release

According to the FBI's Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report released today, the nation experienced a 6.2 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes from January to June 2010, when compared with data from the same time period in the prior year. The report is based on information from more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six comparable months of data to the FBI during the first six months of both 2009 and 2010.

Violent Crime

  • From January to June 2010, all four of the offense types in the violent crime category declined nationwide when compared with data for the same time period in 2009. Robbery fell 10.7 percent, murder was down 7.1 percent, forcible rape declined 6.2 percent, and aggravated assault decreased 3.9 percent.
  • Violent crime declined in all city groups, with the largest decrease, 8.3 percent, in cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999 persons. Violent crime was also down in both nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties, with declines of 7.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.
  • For the six-month comparison period, violent crime fell in all four regions of the nation: 7.8 percent in the South, 7.2 percent in both the Midwest and the West, and 0.2 percent in the Northeast. The Northeast was the only region to experience an increase in murders, 5.7 percent. Murder declined in the other three regions—12.0 percent in the South, 7.1 percent in the West, and 6.3 percent in the Midwest.

Property Crime

  • Property crime was down 2.8 percent nationwide for the first six months of 2010 compared with data for the same months of 2009. Motor vehicle theft dropped 9.7 percent, larceny-theft fell 2.3 percent, and burglary decreased 1.4 percent.
  • Property crime declined in all four regions, with a 3.6 percent decrease in the South, a 3.1 percent decrease in the West, a 2.5 decrease in the Midwest, and a 0.2 percent decrease in the Northeast.
  • Cities with 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants experienced a 4.8 percent drop in property crime. In nonmetropolitan counties, property crime increased 1.0 percent, but it decreased 2.4 percent in metropolitan counties.

Arson

Arson offenses, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, decreased 14.6 percent nationwide. By population group, the largest decline in the number of arson offenses (17.2 percent) was in cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999 residents. Arson also fell in metropolitan counties by 21.6 percent and in nonmetropolitan counties by 19.4 percent. Law enforcement agencies in all four regions reported fewer arsons, including declines of 17.6 percent in the West, 14.3 percent in the South, 12.6 percent in the Midwest, and 10.2 percent in the Northeast.

Note: Caution against Ranking—When the FBI publishes crime data in its Uniform Crime Reports throughout the year, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

The complete Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2010, is available exclusively at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats.

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