WASHINGTON — Violent crime in the United States has declined for a fifth year in a row, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday as it released preliminary annual crime statistics for 2011.

In a statement, the federal law enforcement agency said the nation saw a four percent decrease in violent crimes, compared to 2010, as well as an 0.8 percent decline in property crimes.

"In 2011, all four of the violent crime offense categories -- murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- declined nationwide when compared with data from 2010," the FBI said.

"Murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 1.9 percent, while forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault each declined 4.0 percent," it added, without giving an absolute number of all offenses.

The last year for which the FBI reported an uptick in violent crime was 2006, when a year-on-year increase of 1.98 percent was recorded. Declines since then have varied from 0.7 percent in 2007 to six percent in 2010.

In terms of property theft, last year saw a 3.3 percent drop in motor vehicle theft and a 0.9 percent decline in "larceny-theft," a category that includes pickpocketing, shoplifting and stolen bicycles.