THIEVES are running amok across the Echuca district.
According to the latest crime statistics, theft is our most prevalent crime, with 1083 offences recorded in Campaspe Shire in the 12 months until June — a 25 per cent jump from the previous year.
Half of those thefts occurred in Echuca.
Burglaries and break and enters are also occurring across Campaspe at a rate of more than one a day, with 394 offences — an increase of 14 per cent.
And Campaspe police Inspector Geoff Owen is not happy about it.
‘‘Burglary and theft data is a trend that has increased and Campaspe police continue to undertake disruption activity against our known thieves and burglars, making them keep their head low,’’ he said.
‘‘Unfortunately a lot of the smaller property thefts that make up the percentage increase are opportunistic and from unlocked and insecure locations.
‘‘Police are trying their hardest to drive down theft, but the community also have a role to play by safeguarding and making their property as secure and safe as possible.
‘‘The vast majority of theft from motor vehicles comes from unlocked vehicles as an example of where community can protect itself.’’
According to the new data from the Crime Statistics Agency, property damage jumped 29 per cent in Echuca (to 213 offences) and 3 per cent in Campaspe (325 offences), while dangerous and negligent acts rose 76 per cent in the region to 58 offences.
Arson offences also increased across the region, which Insp. Owen said related to a series of suspicious grass fires on the eastern side of the shire and several stolen cars being burnt out.
‘‘Over the last two fire seasons, we have had spates of suspicious grass fires on the eastern side of the shire and police will be proactive leading into this fire season,’’ he said.
‘‘It is a concern to Campaspe police that certain crime offences within the shire have risen in the past 12 months, however I also look at the overall crime trend for Campaspe which indicates a small decrease of 0.3 per cent.
‘‘I would like to see a larger decrease however I am happy to see overall crime remain flat line rather than increase.’’
Crimes against the person dropped by 19 per cent across Campaspe and 26 per cent in Echuca, including 18 per cent and 25 per cent decreases in assaults respectively.
‘‘Police are taking a no-nonsense approach to alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and providing a strong police presence on Friday and Saturday nights when traditionally the majority of street assaults occur,’’ Insp. Owen said.
‘‘I congratulate local licensees for the strong management of their venues assisted by the use of ID scanners at some venues and CCTV driving down alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour.’’
A decrease in street arrests had also resulted in less drug arrests, according to Insp. Owen.
Drug arrests are down 25 per cent across Campaspe (121 arrests) and 27 per cent in Echuca (63).
‘‘Partial explanation for the decrease in drug possession and drug use crime data is that we are arresting less people for anti-social behaviour Friday and Saturday nights and we traditionally found those same persons in possession of drugs when we searched them,’’ he said.
‘‘Drugs continue to be a blight on the community but this problem is not for police alone.’’
Stalking and harassment offences also decreased by 24 per cent, which Insp. Owen said linked in with an 11 per cent reduction in breach of intervention orders.
‘‘This indicates to me that our repeat family violence offenders are getting the message that our pro-prosecution stance on all intervention breaches is starting to have an impact and modifying their offending behaviour,’’ he said.
‘‘I am not confident enough to say we are defeating family violence in Campaspe and I will continue to have a strong focus on improving police response to family violence to ensure victims and their children are as safe as possible with support services engaged with them.’’