Overall crime dropped nine percent in New Jersey from 2008 to 2009, with a 15 percent drop in the murder rate. There were 320 homicides that year, the lowest number since the 288 in 2000. NJ state police estimate that the latest figure translates into one murder every 27 hours and 23 minutes.
According to the newly released Uniform Crime Report for 2009, firearms were used in 68 percent (219) of murders and cutting instruments in 14 percent (44). In 32 percent (102) killings, the offender and victim knew each other -- 24 percent (77) were friends or acquaintances and 8 percent (25) were family members. Felony murders accounted for 21 percent (68) of all homicides. Robbery was the motive in 47 percent of felony murders.
Of the 320 murders, 53.4 percent (171) are considered "cleared." Also, while there were 15 percent fewer murders, there were 19 percent fewer arrests. Of those arrested for murder, 28 were under the age of 18.