CHICAGO (STMW) – Murders were up by 18.2 percent, while sexual assaults and car thefts also saw uptick for the first two months of the year in Chicago compared to the same period last year.

Chicago Police announced preliminary crime statistics on Friday, noting total crime was down by 9.4 percent citywide while violent and property crimes saw a 9.1 percent and 9.5 percent decrease respectively, a release from police News Affairs said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s David Roe Reports

Although violent crimes were down overall, there was an 18.2 percent increase in homicides and a 4.4 percent increase in criminal sexual assaults, the release said. Eight additional homicides increased the murder total to 52 from the 44 reported last year during the same time.

Also within the violent crimes index — aggravated assaults were down 10.1 percent while aggravated batteries were down 17.1 percent.

There was a 9 percent decrease from an uptick reported in January, while nine districts were down by double digits in the number of homicides reported through the end of February.

The Harrison District has been the focus of a new violence reduction strategy and was one of the top districts to drop in overall crime. Efforts in February resulted in the arrest of more than 100 Black Soul gang members, while another 90-plus members were arrested in later enforcement action by Chicago Police.

Property index crimes decreased by 9.5 percent but a notable exception within the index was motor vehicle thefts, which recorded a 19.9 percent increase.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Watch & Listen LIVE