WASHINGTON — The number of violent crimes unexpectedly rose by 18 percent in the United States last year, the government said Wednesday, the first time that total has risen in nearly 20 years. Property crimes went up by 11 percent, their first increase in a decade.
Academic specialists cautioned that the new figures do not necessarily signal an end to the long era of declining crime.
The increase in violent crime was the result of an upward swing in assaults, which rose 22 percent, from 4 million in 2010 to 5 million last year. But the incidence of rape, sexual assault, and robbery remained largely unchanged, as did serious violent crime involving weapons or injury.
The US Bureau of Justice Statistics said the percentage increases last year were so large primarily because the 2011 crime totals were compared with historically low levels of crime in 2010. Violent crime has fallen by 65 percent since 1993, from 16.8 million to 5.8 million last year.
Property crime was up in 2011 for the first time in a decade, from 15.4 million in 2010 to 17 million.