THEFT is rampant in Echuca and continues to be our most prevalent criminal offence.
It is now occurring almost twice a day (600 cases in a year) — a jump of almost 30 per cent.
Across Campaspe Shire, it has jumped by 37 per cent to 1115 offences and Campaspe police Inspector Geoff Owen admitted those statistics were a growing concern.
“Police are focusing on our repeat offenders and trying to disrupt their criminal behaviours as we know only a few bad apples commit most of the property crime,” he said.
“If we have 20 burglaries, we don’t have 20 new burglars, we have one, two or three who go on a spree. Take them out of the picture and our crime drops very quickly.
“Each week, we review the previous week’s crime and try to identify offenders, trends and hotspots trying to get a step ahead and ensure that police response is at the right spot at the right time.” Insp.
Owen said a lot of property crime was also opportunistic.
“The amount of property stolen when unattended, not secured or out in the open is staggering,” he said.
“A significant number of home burglaries occur via unlocked doors and windows.
“If home owners ensured they locked up and their property is secure, this would help in decreasing burglaries. Leaving doors and windows unlocked is making it too easy for burglars.”
Another issue was motorists leaving keys in their cars.
“You would think that this does not occur but time after time, when police take down the crime report — victims are reporting that they left their keys in the car,” Insp. Owen said.
“We continually hear from the thieves when we catch and interview them that the car they stole from was open, unlocked and the property was just sitting there in the open or on the back of the ute tray.
“Owners need to assume responsibility for their property and take measures to make it as secure as they can in the circumstances.”
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the latest statistics showed a 31.18 per cent increase in Campaspe’s crime rate since the government came to power in 2014.
“Daniel Andrews has to shoulder the blame for these appalling statistics,” Mr Walsh said.
“He has abandoned rural communities and left them vulnerable.”
Mr Walsh said he had recently tabled petitions in Parliament from the Rochester and Gunbower communities calling for an increase in police numbers.
“Our local police do a great job, but with limited resources, weak sentencing laws and lenient enforcement by the courts, the offenders almost beat the police out of the courts,” Mr Walsh said.
“Country crime is spiralling, we feel unsafe in our homes, our lifestyles are being threatened and we are fed up with the left wing Labor party politics forced on us by Daniel Andrews.”