Street thefts and pick-pocketings have gone up by 10% in the biggest leap for a decade, police figures showed today.
Mugging and robberies also increased last year despite an overall fall in crime, combined data from the Office for National Statistics showed.
Serious sexual crimes went up by 2% on police records.
Burglaries went up by 1% while vehicle-related thefts increased by 2% in 2011, according to the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales.
The survey showed "no statistically significant change in overall crime" with police recording 3% fewer incidents.
But recorded figures for theft from the person showed the most dramatic swing after the street-related crime fell for three consecutive years.
The ONS report said: "These latest figures represent the largest year-on-year increase in these offences since 2002; and represent a return to roughly 2008 levels of these offences, following a substantial decrease between 2004 and 2008."
Both the survey and police-recorded statistic "provide evidence of an increase in some of the theft-related offence groups", the ONS said.
Robbery offences recorded by the police showed an overall 3% rise.
Recorded bicycle thefts rose by 7%, with increases recorded in most police force areas.
The rise in serious sex crime marked a slowing of the increased rate of recent years.
The report said: "This continues the pattern of increases in recording of such crimes seen since 2009, although the rate of increase appears to be slowing."
The study, previously known as the British Crime Survey, was published by the ONS for the first time. In the past, the Home Office has been responsible for publishing the figures.
Total recorded crime cases fell in number from 4,159,553 to 4,043,339, the survey estimates.
Deputy Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, praised police for a "reduction in crime and rise in public confidence, alongside ongoing efforts to secure significant cash savings".
Violence against the person decreased by 7%, domestic burglaries dropped 3% and most other categories show reductions in police-recorded crime.
Mr Paxton added: "Particularly pleasing is the reduction in criminal damage shown in both police statistics and the crime survey.
"However, there has been increases in opportunistic thefts and robbery offences and police forces are continuing their efforts to work with partners and the public to prevent these offences.
"The service is determined to continue to build on the good work reflected in these publications and the results are a credit to those officers and staff who have faced the challenge of major efficiencies while continuing to tackle crime in our communities."
Policing minister Nick Herbert said: "Today's figures show that overall crime is stable but there are variations between offences and police force areas, and crime remains too high.
"Police forces and local agencies need to focus on the areas of concern, and from November this year police and crime commissioners will be elected with a mission to drive down crime.
"We will do all we can to cut bureaucracy and give officers the freedom they need to do the job."
Shadow policing minister David Hanson said the figures were "concerning".
He added: "David Cameron is taking huge risks with the fight against crime.
"At a time when robbery and personal theft is on the rise, the Tory-led Government is cutting over 16,000 police officers and removing crucial powers for the police in their use of DNA and making it harder for communities to install CCTV.
"Despite their promises to protect the front line, we know that thousands of officers have already been taken out of 999 response teams, neighbourhood teams and traffic units.
"The Government is out of touch with people's concerns and taking risks with crime and people's personal safety."