Crime has fallen by more than a quarter in five years, according to Sussex Police.
But senior officers fear the economy has led to a large rise in burglaries.
And the Office for National Statistics is questioning whether the true rate of decline is half that recorded by police forces.
According to the most recent crime figures there was a 27.5% decrease in crime in Sussex between 2006 and 2011.
In the 12 months leading up to September, police recorded a 3% year-on-year fall, to 93,821 crimes.
The notable exception to a general fall in crime was a 13% rise in burglaries at homes. So-called “other theft” – which includes pickpocketing, shoplifting, bicycle theft and handling stolen goods – went up 5% and fraud rose by 8%.
Sussex Police Deputy Chief Constable Giles York said: “Sussex remains the seventh safest county nationally for burglaries of people’s homes.
“We are beginning to see a rise in acquisitive crime – burglary and theft – reflecting historical trends during other periods of economic downturn.
“Burglary in particular has shown a rise after years of continuing reduction. We have experienced a targeted series of burglaries in areas of West Sussex and in Brighton and Hove and have made a number of arrests in connection with these.”
He advised the public to report suspicious behaviour and to keep expensive items like laptops and jewellery security-marked and out of sight.
A report published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday said that crime recorded by police had fallen by 33% since 2006, while the estimation from the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales was only 17%.
Councillor Ben Duncan, who represents Brighton and Hove City Council on Sussex Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises the commissioner’s office, said: “My view is if you want to get to the bottom of anything you want to get figures from someone who hasn’t got a vested interest in what those figures are saying.
“I don’t doubt the police have been above board in the way they collect the figures, but I’d be more inclined to look at the Crime Survey for England and Wales.”
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