Violent crimes in New Jersey declined by 10.1 percent last year, while nonviolent crime dipped 1.7 percent.

The improving numbers mirror a national trend of declining crime rates, but the statewide average might not tell the whole story.

Most big cities in the Garden State saw significant drops in all kinds of crime, especially murder.

In Camden, for example, the murder rate was cut in half. Crime also dropped significantly in Newark and Jersey City.

But in the state's larger suburbs, it was a mixed bag.

Violent and nonviolent crimes rose in places like South Brunswick, Edison, Middletown, Jackson and Piscataway.

Nonviolent crimes, such as shoplifting and burglaries, climbed in Howell, Asbury Park, Parsippany-Troy Hills and Manchester.

Violent crimes, such as murder, robberies and assault, went up in Brick, Bridgewater, Old Bridge and East Brunswick.

New Jersey 101.5 compiled the 2017 crime stats of the largest cities and towns, as well as all 21 counties, in a list at the bottom of this story. The data comes from the State Police's collection of crime statistics reported by local police.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions credited Trump administration policies for a decline in crime even though crime has been dropping for years.

John Shane, a professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says it’s not clear “whether or not it’s anything that government did. We don’t know whether it’s any police strategy."

He noted we’ve had a relatively strong uptick in the economy over the past year, and that may have impacted employment rates and migration patterns, which in turn can have an effect on crime rates.

Shane pointed out that in smaller towns, slight increases or decreases could create a perception that a particular area is either very safe or crime ridden. But the behavior of just a few people could cause a crime wave.

“Statistics are like that. Small increases, from one to two, is 100 percent.”

In the Mercer County township of Hamilton, violent crime dropped 22 percent but non-violent crime was up almost 27 percent last year.

Mayor Kelly Yaede said many of the offenses being reported are minor crimes of opportunity, like people stealing change out of unlocked cars.

“It only takes seconds to go down a street and tap on a car handle to see if it’s unlocked," she said.

Yaede believes the opioid epidemic may be fueling the uptick in property crimes.

“Individuals are now stealing change because heroin will go for as little as $2 a bag here,” she said.

She said whether you’re in Princeton, Hamilton or Lawrence, you may think you’re in suburbia and crime won’t happen, but it can and does. Police are reminding residents not to leave their cars running in the driveway or at the convenience store, and not to leave valuables in unlocked cars.

Joel Caplan, professor of criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Newark, said it’s always hard to draw conclusions from data.

He said while data from one year may suggest a particular town is getting dangerous or safer, that won’t necessarily be the case.

Shane, who became a professor after serving as a police captain in Newark, said many times crime numbers can go up or down and there’s no clear reason to explain what’s happening.

“It’s random fluctuation because crime is a dynamic phenomenon, and that’s why it takes a very robust analysis to figure out what is changing.”

He said a number of variables can affect crime stats, including changing police strategies, law enforcement retirements, public administration issues, homelessness and truancy levels.

“There’s a whole lot of things that have to be examined.”

Crime in NJ's largest cities & towns

The list below provides the crime stats for the 50 largest municipalities plus the total numbers for all 21 counties. The list compares 2016 to 2017.

ATLANTIC COUNTY

Violent crimes: -14.4 percent

Non-violent crimes: -0.9 percent

 

ATLANTIC CITY

Violent crimes: 480 » 425 — -11.5 percent

Non-violent crimes: 1,807 » 1,732 — -4.2 percent

 

EGG HARBOR TWP

Violent crimes: 86 » 55 — -36 percent

Non-violent crimes: 745 »  812 — +9 percent

BERGEN COUNTY

Violent crimes: 804  »  684 — -14.9 percent

Non-violent crimes: 9,126  »  9,035 — -1 percent

 

HACKENSACK

Violent crimes: 88 » 88 — 0 percent

Non-violent crimes: 693 » 619 — -10.7 percent

 

BURLINGTON COUNTY

Violent crime: 719 » 664 — -7.6 percent

Non-violent crime: 6,581 » 6,214 — -5.6 percent

 

EVESHAM

Violent crime: 32 » 28 — -12.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 661 » 562 — -15 percent

 

MOUNT LAUREL

Violent crime: 30 » 37 —

Non-violent crime: 630 » 512 — -18.7 percent

 

CAMDEN COUNTY

Violent crime: 2,359 » 2,234 — -5.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 12,342 » 11,880 — -3.7 percent

 

CAMDEN

Violent crime: 1,574 » 1,462 — -7.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 2,644 » 2,526 — -4.5 percent

 

CHERRY HILL

Violent crime: 92 » 93 — +1.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,949 » 1,887 — -3.2 percent

 

GLOUCESTER TWP

Violent crime: 87 » 101 — +16.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,036 » 1,130 — +9.1 percent

 

CAPE MAY COUNTY

Violent crime: 217 » 183  — -15.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 2,838 » 2,618  — -7.8 percent

 

CUMBERLAND COUNTY

Violent crime: 820 » 779 — -5 percent

Non-violent crime: 5,648 » 5,282 — -6.5 percent

 

VINELAND

Violent crime: 297 » 276  — -7.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 2,412 » 2,244 — -7 percent

 

ESSEX COUNTY

Violent crime: 4,527 » 3,860 — -14.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 15,397 » 15,125 — -1.8 percent

 

BLOOMFIELD

Violent crime: 64 » 57 — -10.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 805 » 783 — -2.7 percent

 

EAST ORANGE

Violent crime: 437 » 472 — +8 percent

Non-violent crime: 898 » 1,059 — +17.9 percent

 

IRVINGTON

Violent crime: 509 » 445 — -12.6 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,258 » 1,409 — +12 percent

 

NEWARK

Violent crime: 2,637 » 2,160  — -18.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 6,308 » 5,661 — -10.3 percent

 

WEST CALDWELL

Violent crime: 4 » 8 — +100 percent

Non-violent crime: 78 » 66 — -15.4 percent

GLOUCESTER COUNTY

Violent crime: 337 » 371 — +10.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 5,398 » 5,564 — +3.1 percent

 

WASHINGTON TWP

Violent crime: 53 » 58 —  +9.4 percent

Non-violent crime:   865 » 764 — -11.7 percent

 

HUDSON COUNTY

Violent crime: 2,236 » 1,853 — -17.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 10,588 » 9,956 — -6 percent

 

BAYONNE

Violent crime: 147 » 140  — -4.8 percent

Non-violent crime: 743 » 810 — +9 percent

 

HOBOKEN

Violent crime: 121 » 131 — +8.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 943 » 1,064 — +12.8 percent

 

JERSEY CITY

Violent crime: 1,275 » 1,011 — -20.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 4,483 » 3,805 — -15.1 percent

 

NORTH BERGEN

Violent crime:  107 » 96 — -10.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 602 » 485 — -19.4 percent

 

UNION CITY

Violent crime: 211 » 164  — -22.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,134 » 1,235 — +8.9 percent

 

WEST NEW YORK

Violent crime: 130 » 108 — -16.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 549 » 525 — -4.4 percent

 

HUNTERDON COUNTY

Violent crime: 51 » 49 — -3.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 707 » 670 — -5.2 percent

 

MERCER COUNTY

Violent crime: 1,495 » 1,402 — -6.2 percent

Non-violent crime: 6,619 » 6,980 — +5.5 percent

 

HAMILTON

Violent crime: 162 » 126 — -22.2percent

Non-violent crime: 1,516 » 1,922 — +26.8 percent

 

TRENTON

Violent crime: 1,127 » 1,083 — -3.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 2,186 » 2,193 — +0.3 percent

 

MIDDLESEX COUNTY

Violent crime: 1,184 » 1,142 — -3.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 10,605 » 10,675 — +0.7 percent

 

EAST BRUNSWICK

Violent crime: 23 » 24 — +4.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 725 » 673 — -7.2 percent

 

EDISON

Violent crime: 104 » 106 — +1.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,088 » 1,095 — +0.6 percent

 

OLD BRIDGE

Violent crime: 28 » 44  — +57.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 665 » 581 — -12.6 percent

 

NEW BRUNSWICK

Violent crime: 392 » 360 — -8.2 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,252 » 1,341 — +7.1 percent

 

NORTH BRUNSWICK

Violent crime: 64 » 49 — -23.4 percent

Non-violent crime: 602 » 688 — +14.3 percent

 

PERTH AMBOY

Violent crime: 210 » 154 — -26.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 806 » 773 — -4.1 percent

 

PISCATAWAY

Violent crime: 36 » 52 — +44.4 percent

Non-violent crime: 467 » 493 — +5.6 percent

 

SAYREVILLE

Violent crime: 30 » 29 — -3.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 373 » 392 — +5.1 percent

 

SOUTH BRUNSWICK

Violent crime: 18 » 25 —  +38.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 382 » 439 — +14.9 percent

 

WOODBRIDGE

Violent crime: 105 » 104 — -1 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,715 » 1,608 — -6.2 percent

 

MONMOUTH COUNTY

Violent crime: 973 » 931 — -4.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 8,606 » 8,498 — -1.3 percent

 

ASBURY PARK

Violent crime:   223 » 213 — -4.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 723 » 746 — +3.2 percent

 

HOWELL

Violent crime: 45 » 35 — -22.2 percent

Non-violent crime: 384 » 407 — +6 percent

 

MIDDLETOWN

Violent crime: 17 » 47 — +176.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 436 » 463 — +6.2 percent

 

MORRIS COUNTY

Violent crime: 326 » 220 — -32.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 4,067 » 3,787 — -6.9 percent

 

MORRISTOWN

Violent crime: 62 » 40 — -35.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 314 » 288 — -8.3 percent

 

PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS

Violent crime: 34 » 31 — -8.8 percent

Non-violent crime: 363 » 378 — +4.1 percent

 

OCEAN COUNTY

Violent crime: 573 » 479 — -16.4 percent

Non-violent crime: 7,124 » 6,712 — -5.8 percent

 

BERKELEY

Violent crime: 58 » 22 — -62.1 percent

Non-violent crime: 432 » 396 — -8.3 percent

 

BRICK

Violent crime: 71 » 107 — +50.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,059 » 1,051 — -0.8 percent

 

TOMS RIVER

Violent crime: 67 » 62 — -7.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,836 » 1,553 — -15.4 percent

 

JACKSON

Violent crime: 13 » 24 — +84.6 percent

Non-violent crime: 473 » 483 — +2.1 percent

 

LAKEWOOD

Violent crime: 169 » 95 — -43.8 percent

Non-violent crime: 949 » 931 — -1.9 percent

 

MANCHESTER

Violent crime: 25 » 11 — -56 percent

Non-violent crime: 216 » 224 — +3.7 percent

 

PASSAIC COUNTY

Violent crime: 1,881 » 1,750 — -7 percent

Non-violent crime: 8,485 » 8,609 — +1.5 percent

 

CLIFTON

Violent crime: 202 » 184 — -8.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,308 » 1,386 — +6 percent

 

PASSAIC

Violent crime: 398 » 390 — -2 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,106 » 1,163 — +5.2 percent

 

PATERSON

Violent crime: 1,126 » 1,028  — -8.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 3,154 » 3,399 — +7.8 percent

 

WAYNE

Violent crime: 17 » 29 — +70.6 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,119 » 979 — -12.5 percent

 

SALEM COUNTY

Violent crime: 172 » 157 — -8.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,057 » 1,072 — +1.4 percent

 

SOMERSET COUNTY

Violent crime: 226 » 208 — -8 percent

Non-violent crime: 3,554 » 3,384 — -4.8 percent

 

BRIDGEWATER

Violent crime: 15 » 19 — +26.7 percent

Non-violent crime: 412 » 387 — -6.1 percent

 

FRANKLIN

Violent crime: 62 » 48 — -22.6 percent

Non-violent crime: 791 » 779 — -1.5 percent

 

SOMERVILLE

Violent crime: 23 » 10 — -56.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 180 » 135 — -25 percent

 

SUSSEX COUNTY

Violent crime: 81 » 80 — -1.2 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,177 » 905 — -23.1 percent

 

UNION COUNTY

Violent crime: 1,877 » 1,758 — -6.3 percent

Non-violent crime: 10,090 » 10,693 — +6 percent

 

ELIZABETH

Violent crime: 1,054 » 1,034 — -1.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 4,134 » 4,595 — +11.2 percent

 

PLAINFIELD

Violent crime: 346 » 322 — -6.9 percent

Non-violent crime: 958 » 1,055 — +10.1 percent

 

WARREN COUNTY

Violent crime: 73 » 58  —  -20.5 percent

Non-violent crime: 1,207 » 1,264 — +4.7 percent

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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