Bucking conventional wisdom about how crime rises as incomes fall and unemployment rises, the FBI's latest report on nationwide crime statistics for 2009 shows an overall decline in both violent and non-violent crime. In the West, there was an overall 8% decline in the murder rate, a 4% decline in burglaries, and a 17.5% decline in auto theft over 2008 figures. As you may recall, our own city's murder rate was sliced in half, from 98 in 2008 to 45.

Of note, there was a 12% decline in arsons statewide, but do to the voluntary nature of the reporting of these statistics by local municipalities, we have to wonder whether the carsonist or the toilet torcher were included in San Francisco's total of 198.