Vio­lent crimes unex­pect­edly jumped 18 per­cent last year, the first rise in nearly 20 years, and prop­erty crimes rose for first time in a decade. But aca­d­emic experts said the new gov­ern­ment data fall short of sig­naling a reversal of the long decline in crime.

The U.S. Bureau of Jus­tice Sta­tis­tics reported Wednesday that the increase in the number of vio­lent crimes was the result of an upward swing in simple assaults, which rose 22 per­cent, from 4 mil­lion in 2010 to 5 mil­lion last year. The inci­dence of rape, sexual assault and rob­bery remained largely unchanged, as did serious vio­lent crime involving weapons or injury.

2011 may be worse than 2010, but it was also the second-​​best in recent his­tory,” said North­eastern Uni­ver­sity crim­i­nology pro­fessor James Alan Fox.

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