Crime in California has fallen to its lowest level in more than 40 years, and violent offenses such as murder and rape are also down, according to the state's Justice Department.

The California Department of Justice's "Crime in California" shows that violent crime has fallen for the fourth year in a row. Overall, the violent crime rate decreased 6.9 percent, reaching its lowest level since 1968, and homicide and forcible rape rates are the lowest since 1966.

Crime rates have dropped from last year in several category measures, including homicide (down 7.8 percent), robbery (10 percent) and vehicle theft (7.6 percent). Since peaking in 1989, the vehicle theft rate has fallen 62 percent in part due to transponder keys and key code technology.

The total arrest rate is 6 percent lower than last year. Adult and juvenile total arrest rates declined from last year. The number of juvenile felony arrests has decreased by 11.2 percent in the past year. Adolescents involved in crime are at a greater risk of becoming offenders and victims as adults.

Additionally, there has also been a decrease in arrests for property offenses for the third consecutive year, including burglary, theft, and forgery.

The one area of increase came in the rate of arrests for dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine, phencyclidine and barbiturates. That number increased by 12.2 percent for the first time in five years. Arrests for narcotics, marijuana and other drug offenses continued to decline.

The annual report is compiled by the California Department of Justice and is based on data reported by police and sheriff's departments in thje state's 58 counties. It presents an overview of the state's criminal justice system through statistics for reported crimes, arrests and dispositions of adult felony arrests, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted.

The Crime in California 2010 report and data broken down by county and can be viewed at the California Department of Justice Web site.

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