Major reported crime in the District of Columbia increased 7 percent for the first nine months of this year as compared to the same period a year ago, D.C. police officials said yesterday.

While reported crime was up, however, officials noted that, for the second month in a row, the rate at which reported crime was increasing actually declined by 2 percent when compared to the same period a year ago.

D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner, who announced the figures, said he was encouraged by the cooperation the police have received from citizens in an effort to fight crime. He praised citizen participation in the neighborhood watch program.

Turner also said a two-month-old drug task force that has cracked down on drug users and sellers throughout the city has made more than 1,100 arrests, ranging from drug possession to fugitive from justice charges. He said the task force has recovered 29 handguns, seven shotguns, two rifles and $48,000 in cash.

According to the statistics, police recorded 49,249 major offenses -- homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, car theft, larceny and aggravated assault -- in the first nine months of this year, a figure 7 percent higher than the 46,155 reported for the same period a year ago.

The number of homicides was up 11 percent, from 144 for the first nine months a year ago to 157 for the same period this year. Robberies increased 21 percent, from 6,063 to 7,240, and burglaries jumped 6 percent, from 11,386 to 12,296.

The number of aggravated assaults rose 7 percent, from 2,443 to 2,607, while larcenies increased 4 percent, from 22,984 to 23,863. Auto thefts increased 5 percent, from 2,690 to 2,773, while rapes decreased 7 percent, from 326 to 313.