A surge in thefts from cars in the Illawarra has dominated the latest crime data.
There were 3115 such thefts recorded in the year to June, a 19 per cent spike on the preceeding 12 months.
Wollongong crime manager Detective Inspector Tim Beattie said the problem had given rise to Strike Force Puma, a joint effort with Lake Illawarra police that had achieved breakthrough results - including 111 charges - since it formed early this year.
"Over 50 per cent of thefts from Wollongong are from unlocked vehicles. That has been a driver for the increase: low risk, high return and good opportunity."
Insp Beattie said petrol theft, and the linked crime of number-plate theft, had accounted for some of the increase, but was more significant statewide.
Across NSW theft from motor vehicles rose 5.4 per cent, while fraud rose 5.2 per cent.
Non-domestic assaults fell by 8.2 per cent while malicious damage to property fell by 5.6 per cent over the period.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) director Don Weatherburn said the most encouraging results in the June report were a further drop in assaults on licensed premises.
"The rise in stealing from a motor vehicle is a direct result of higher petrol prices," Dr Weatherburn said.
"People are stealing number plates to avoid detection when they steal petrol. If petrol prices start to decline, stealing from a motor vehicle will start going down."
Although shootings had stabilised, April was the worst month in the past decade for the offence of discharging a firearm into premises, with 20 incidents recorded.
There was an average of 8.1 shootings per month over the last 24 months. The remaining 13 classes of major offences, including shootings, were stable.