FOR the first time since 1984, the nationwide rate of "serious crimes" - burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson - has declined, the Department of Justice reported yesterday. A DOJ survey, reporting preliminary figures for 1992, shows a 4 percent decline in those crimes compared with 1991.
Among violent crimes - murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault - the overall total remained virtually unchanged compared with 1991. But individually, murder was down 6 percent and robbery was down 3 percent. Forcible rape and aggravated assault each increased by 2 percent.
In a regional breakdown, the DOJ reports declines in its overall crime index in the Northeast (7 percent), the Midwest (5 percent), and the South (4 percent). The West showed no change. Taken collectively, cities with populations over 1 million showed an 8 percent drop in overall crime, and a 6 percent drop in violent crime.