A Justice Department press release says:
By Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 - 7:05 am
Violent and property crime rates rose for U.S. residents in 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. These estimates are based on data from the annual National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) which has collected information from victims of crime age 12 or older since 1973.
The NCVS is a giant survey of 162,000 people about whether they were the victims of crime in the past year. Here's the new report (PDF).
This is different from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting, which tabulate the cops' numbers. The victimization survey explains:
The annual increase in violent victimizations in 2012, based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), was consistent with the overall increase in violent crime shown in the findings from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program (table 9). The increase in property victimizations from the NCVS was inconsistent with the FBI’s finding of a slight decline in overall property crime. ...
The number of violent crimes known to the police as measured by the UCR increased by 0.7%, from 2011 to 2012, and the number of property crimes declined by about 0.9%. During the same period, the number of violent crimes in the NCVS increased by 17.7% and the number of property crimes increased by 15.0%.
Maybe smartphone theft is up, but people don't bother to report it?
The DoJ press release continues:
The violent crime rate (which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault) rose from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 26.1 in 2012.
That's a 15% increase per capita in one year, 18% in absolute numbers. Not good.
Fortunately, the homicide rate inched downward in per capita terms.
Crime not reported to police and simple assault accounted for the majority of this increase. Violent victimizations not reported to police increased from 10.8 per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 14.0 in 2012, and simple assault rates rose from 15.4 to 18.2 per 1,000. The rate of violent crime reported to police did not change significantly from 2011 to 2012.
The rate of property crime (which includes burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft) increased from 138.7 per 1,000 households in 2011 to 155.8 in 2012, primarily due to an increase in theft.
Up 12 percent per capita.
The rate of theft victimization increased from 104.2 per 1,000 households in 2011 to 120.9 in 2012.
In 2012, 44 percent of violent victimizations and 54 percent of serious violent victimizations were reported to police. These percentages were not statistically different from 2011. The percentage of property victimizations reported to police declined from 37 percent in 2011 to 34 percent in 2012. ...
Violent crime rates increased slightly in 2012 for blacks but remained stable for whites and Hispanics.
Those are rates of being victimized by crime, not in committing crime.
So, hard to say what's going on, but the 2011 and 2012 news, while not terrible, hasn't been good after modest declines in crime during the early years of the recession.