Cleveland Police has recorded its first rise in crime in six years, brought on partly by people not paying for their petrol.
The Home Office has confirmed that in 2011 crime went up by 3%, the joint second biggest rise in the country along with four other forces.
But Cleveland said that if 2012 is taken into account, then its crime rate has only risen by 1.2% which it says is a "statistical insignificance".
Even so, Cleveland recorded a 13.5% rise in fraud and forgery and a 12.6% rise in the "the most serious types of violence".
And that includes murders, grievous assaults, attempted murders and deaths by dangerous driving.
The figures revealed that 40 more people were victims of these types of crime in 2011 than the year before.
The force argued that murders were still relatively low, and said that its crime rise was mainly down to more people stealing.
Part of the enormous rise in "fraud and forgery" was down to thefts in petrol stations.
Andrew Love, from the Billingham bypass petrol station, said: "It's definitely got worse with the fuel prices going up, and sometimes they're even just using false registrations. So it is getting worse I'd say.
"It's anything from filling a petrol can up with £10 worth or filling a car up with nearly £100 of fuel. So it is a a big loss really."
Petrol stations have complained of having poor CCTV and of drivers getting more sophisticated in the way they go about avoiding detection.
Across the rest of the North East, the total number of crimes committed dropped.
Northumbria Police recorded a 7% drop in total crime, while North Yorkshire recorded a 3% fall and Durham a 1% decrease.