Car jackings on the rise

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Carjackings on the rise

Vehicle-related crimes are on the rise in the Melbourne’s south-east including multiple car break-ins in car parks, Kingston crime prevention officer leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says.

Carjackings in Malvern

In June this year, Malvern experienced two carjackings in two days, causing the Victorian Government and State Opposition to contemplate new legislation to make carjacking a specific offence.

Recent Crime Statistics Agency data showed that carjackings across Victoria rose by 80 per cent over the past 12 months.

A simple safety measure is to keep the doors locked and windows closed when driving.

Luxury cars targeted

Leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says Melbourne’s southern metropolitan region is also a target for luxury car thefts.

“Unfortunately thieves are also breaking into houses for the sole purpose of locating car keys to steal high-end cars. Where possible, park vehicles in garages and ensure your home security is sound.” Consider alarms that allow perimeter-arming, such as the garage and external doors. This means you can arm your alarm system while you are at home.

As is the case in other parts of the state, there has been an increase in the theft of vehicle number plates, which can then be used in petrol theft, evading tolls and more serious crimes. Lisa says residents can secure their number plates with anti-theft screws available from local police stations.

Statistically safe

Melbourne’s southern metropolitan region is statistically one of the safest regions in the state – but crime rates can only remain low if residents take simple measures to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.

“Theft from vehicles and residential burglaries remain high, which is frustrating because they are largely preventable crimes,” leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says.

“Thieves go for easy targets – unlocked cars, doors, and windows of homes left unlocked or ajar, items of value left within sight or easy reach.”

Key time for crime

Leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says that most home burglaries occur during 7am and 4 pm when homes are largely vacant, and that thefts from vehicles are most frequent between 4pm and midnight.

She urges residents to undertake a quick self-assessment of their home’s security.

“Take half an hour out of your day to look at your home from a burglar’s perspective – does it look like somebody is home? Can you be seen from the road? If you look inside, can you see valuables that you could easily steal?” she says.

Even though most burglaries occur when homes are vacant, people are urged not to be complacent about security while they are at home. Burglars have been known to enter homes while homeowners are in other rooms and people are urged to keep doors locked and ensure that thieves can’t enter through open windows.

Simple safety steps

It is a sentiment shared by RACV general manager home services Aaron Flavell.

“Just some simple changes in mindset can make a big difference as to whether a thief targets your home,” he says.

“For example, if you are going out at night, you can leave a light on inside so it gives the impression that somebody is home. Make sure that no garden tools are accessible from the outside of your home, as these can be used to force entry.”

If you do become a victim of a home burglary, leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says the first thing to do is to call 000 immediately.

“And remember that your safety always comes first, so if you believe the offender may still be inside, leave and go to a safe place.”

South doesn’t make top five

The south includes local government areas (LGAs) such as Stonnington, Glen Eira, Bayside, Kingston, Booroondara and Port Phillip, spanning the blue-chip districts of Kew, Hawthorn and Malvern through to the beachside suburbs of Sandringham, Black Rock and Beaumaris.

Stonnington (one per 54 homes burgled), Port Phillip (one per 63 homes burgled) and Booroondara (one per 66 homes burgled) are riskier LGAs than the Victorian average of one per 67, but nowhere in the south ranks among the five riskiest LGAs in metropolitan Melbourne.

The likes of Glen Eira (one per 73 homes), Bayside (one per 92 homes) and Kingston (one per 106 homes) are increasingly safer, which leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie attributes to a number of factors.

“Kingston, Bayside and Glen Eira have low rates of offences against the person such as assaults and robberies, [and] perhaps this could be partly attributed to our lack of larger licensed entertainment precincts,” she says.

 “We do have an ageing population here too, and a large area is also industrial which increases property crime but decreases crime against persons.”

No suburbs in the south are among greater Melbourne’s 10 riskiest postcodes, but postcodes including 3144 (Malvern, Kooyong), 3145 (Malvern East, Darling), 3104 (Balwyn North), 3182 (St Kilda), 3148 (Chadstone), 3147 (Ashburton), 3184 (Elwood), 3103 (Balwyn), 3181 (Prahran) and 3122 (Hawthorn) are all riskier than average.

Stonnington most at risk

Stonnington remains the riskiest local government area in the south, which Mayor Claude Ullin attributes to the fact that many of its suburbs are popular destinations for visitors.

“This can sometimes attract some anti-social behaviour, however the continued popularity of our parks, shopping strips, dining options and nightlife is testament to the fact that Stonnington is a vibrant, inviting place,” he says.

Mayor Ullin says that Stonnington has invested in a number of proactive measures to prevent crime, including a redesign of popular outdoor areas such as Windsor Plaza to create more well-lit and visible spaces.

During 2014 and 2015, Stonnington expanded its existing CCTV camera system with an increase in the number of cameras operating on the Chapel Street entertainment precinct and the installation of a five-camera network in Toorak Village.

“We’re currently in the process of rolling out our latest initiative which will reduce the speed limit in local streets in Toorak and Prahran,” Mayor Ullin says.

“We expect that this will significantly and positively affect community safety by improving the amenity of our local streets and increasing safety for motorists and pedestrians.”

Story: Kathryn Kernohan

Written by RACV
February 22, 2019