New York once again safest city in U.S.

New York was once again the safest city in the United States last year, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics Michael Bloomberg. Well, in fairness, the mayor did cite stats from the FBI. And, he wasn’t shy about pointing out that crime fell another 12 percent in the first five months of 2009. New York is tops among the 25 largest cities in the country.

Stretch the standard to cities with populations of over 100,000 (261 in all), and 245 cities have higher crime rates. So, a city of more than 8 million people compares with Torrance, California and McKinney, Texas.

Last year, murders fell 21 percent (43 fewer slayings), and rapes declined 17 percent. 491 fewer cars were stolen, and there were 1,415 fewer robberies. The city’s murder count in 2008, 523, was the second lowest since 1961 … when New York started keeping track.

So, come to New York. Crime is down, and hotels and flights are cheaper than ever!

Travel to NYC With Grand Theft Auto?

The upcoming version of Grand Theft Auto (GTA) — the popular video game known for it’s morally ambiguous stance on violence — will be set in New York City.

Not surprisingly, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a little upset — particularly because you can earn points in the game by killing police officers.

While the new GTA technically takes place in the fictional “Liberty City,” you’ll recognize plenty of famous landmarks and tourist destinations — including the Statue of Liberty, Coney Island’s Cyclone and the Brooklyn Bridge.

GTA supporters point out that countless violent movies are set in the city, including those that feature the gritty reality of murderers, prostitutes, organized crime — even corrupt police officers. They don’t see the difference between these films, and the game — which they call an art form.

I actually haven’t played GTA since the very first version came out years ago, and didn’t realize the game’s fantasy environments were based on real locations. Who knows — it might be a fun way to get a feel for the city without leaving your house.

That is, if you don’t mind stealing cars and shooting people in the process.