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WASHINGTON - The nation's crime rate was unchanged last year, holding at the lowest levels since the government began surveying crime victims in 1973, the Justice Department reported Sunday.
Since 1993, violent crime as measured by victim surveys has fallen by 57 percent and property crime by 50 percent. That has included a 9 percent drop in violent crime from 2001-2002 to 2003-2004.

The 2004 violent crime rate assault, sexual assault and armed robbery was 21.4 victims for every 1,000 people age 12 and older. That amounts to about one violent crime victim for every 47 U.S. residents.

By comparison, there were 22.6 violent crime victims per 1,000 people in 2003. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said the difference between the rates in 2003 and 2004 was statistically insignificant.

Other highlights of the Justice Department report:

_Blacks, men (except in cases of sexual assaults) and young people were victimized most often.

_Nearly two-thirds of women knew their attackers, while men were just as likely to be attacked by strangers.

_In 2004, just under one-quarter of all violent crimes were committed by an offender armed with a gun, knife or other weapon.

_The rates of rapes and robberies have dropped by nearly two-thirds since 1993.

_The West had the highest property crime rate in 2004 (204 crimes per 1,000 households), while renters were victims more often than homeowners (201 crimes versus 143 crimes per 1,000). City-dwellers were far more likely to be victims of property crimes (215 crimes per 1,000) than suburban or rural residents (143 and 134 per 1,000, respectively)