Pick-pocketing is on the rise as thieves increasingly target smartphones, figures show.
The number of police-recorded instances of "theft from the person" rose 8% in the year to December 2012, which represents a speeding-up of recent increases, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The ONS said anecdotal evidence suggested this is in part driven by smartphone theft, including the "phenomena" of bike riders stealing phones from people's hands.
Meanwhile, the estimated level of crime in England and Wales fell by 5% to 8.9 million crimes against adults in the year to December 2012, while the total number of police-recorded crimes fell 8% to 3.7 million in the same period.
Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said: "Crime continues to fall - recorded crime is down by more than 10% under this Government and the independent survey shows crime is at its lowest level since records began.
"It is particularly encouraging that this downward trend is replicated across every police force in England and Wales. They have shown an impressive ability to accommodate necessary budget reductions whilst still cutting crime.
"This shows our reforms are working. We have swept away central targets, reduced bureaucracy and the police should be congratulated for rising to the challenge of doing more with less. England and Wales are safer than they have been for decades. We will continue to work hard to tackle crime and its underlying causes."
The ONS said the crime figures include the 214 sexual offences related to the high-profile Operation Yewtree associated with disgraced presenter Jimmy Savile. However, despite this, there was a 3% fall in overall recorded sexual offences.
The ONS said the so-called Yewtree effect, which may results in more victims coming forward to report historical sexual abuse, may impact on future figures.
There were 107, 471 offences of theft from the person recorded in the year to December 2012, compared to 99,396 in the previous year. The ONS said the rate of increase had sped up since 2008/2009.