CESSNOCK has become the Hunter's problem town, with major spikes in troubling crimes including burglary, car theft and stealing from motor vehicles.
The state's top crime statistician, Dr Don Weatherburn, yesterday made special mention of the Coalfields town while releasing the annual NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures.
"Cessnock has significant problems and there are none of the comforting thoughts available like some other places across the Hunter," Dr Weatherburn said.
"If I was police I would be focusing my attention on Cessnock."
Compared with 2010 figures, the Cessnock local government area last year experienced significant spikes in break and enter into a dwelling (up 36 per cent), motor vehicle theft (up 39 per cent) and steal from motor vehicle (up 56 per cent).
The steal from motor vehicles mirrors a worrying trend across the Hunter and the rest of the state, with experts blaming demand for number plates to be used in petrol theft for the spike.
Across the Hunter, stealing from cars was up 26.4 per cent, including up 22.3 per cent in the Newcastle local government area.
But Newcastle local area commander Superintendent John Gralton said his figures showed a steady decline since last June.
Newcastle also experienced a rise in indecent assaults (up 31 per cent) although several factors, including multiple charges being laid involving old cases, could be the cause.
Dr Weatherburn said non-domestic assaults continued their sharp decline in Newcastle, with another 17 per cent drop since the lockouts and curfews were first put into place across the central business district.
In Lake Macquarie, steal from cars was up 79 per cent, shoplifting rose 19 per cent and sex offences were up 13 per cent on last year.
Port Stephens recorded stable figures in all major crime areas except burglaries, which fell 13 per cent.
Maitland was also stable, with an 18 per cent drop in non-domestic assaults.