The murder rate in Costa Rica fell slightly during 2012 to 8.9 per 100,000 residents from its level in 2011 of 10.3 per 100,000, authorities said Thursday.

The director of the Judicial Investigation Office, or OIJ, Francisco Segura, held a press conference on Thursday to present the crime figures for 2012, which revealed decreases in the majority of crimes, although not in thefts and home robberies.

Segura said that 394 homicides were registered nationwide in 2012, 79 fewer than the year before and most of which were committed during arguments or fights or as revenge killings.

The OIJ's annual report said that compared with 2011 vehicle thefts fell 15.5 percent and assaults declined 13.4 percent while common thefts rose by 43.8 percent and home robberies by 4.6 percent.

He also said that the increase in thefts could be associated with the expansion in the use of mobile phones among the population, presumably either because many such devices are being stolen or the public is having an easier time reporting thefts in general to the police by using their cell phones.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican Security Minister Mario Zamora said in a communique that despite the improvement in some indicators, the authorities "will not let down their guard" and will continue working "arduously" to fight crime.

"These Judicial Police indicators of criminality reaffirm the commitment we have to citizen safety. We're going to continue working (in a coordinated way) with the authorities of other institutions," the minister said. EFE