Safe as houses Part 5: Melbourne's South-Eastern suburbs

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Safer in the south

You arrive home and find a smashed window or door ajar. Immediately you get that sinking feeling – is it a burglary? What have they taken? Is it the laptop with all the photos? Cash? Family heirloom? What happens next?

The scene of the crime

Immediately call 000 to report the crime. Police will ask you to try not to touch anything until after an officer has visited the scene to gather evidence. So far, so similar to the movies, except reality never quite reaches the drama portrayed on screen.
Dandenong senior constable Paul Clarke says he will call the house owner to establish what’s happened, he starts a police report and then visits the scene.

On the scene, fingerprints, DNA, and anything else that could be used to catch the crook will be collected.
“We photograph everything and we fingerprint anything of note – where they’ve got through the window or anything they’ve touched – jewellery boxes, drawers, drinking glasses – anything that could have fingerprints,” he says.
DNA left behind – blood on broken windows, fingernails or hair – may be gathered as it can lead to arrests. Paul also notes all serial numbers and any other details particular to the burglary.

Crime rates fall

In the south-eastern metropolitan region, where Paul works, the burglary rate is below the state average of one in every 73 homes.

About two-thirds are below the average, and in just over a dozen suburbs there are less than one in 100 homes burgled.

Only one suburb, Clayton, features in the top 40. Every other area, based on electoral regions, has at least two suburbs in the top 40.

As well as the 20th most-burgled Clayton, riskier suburbs include Doveton, Narre Warren East and North, Frankston North, Prahran and Noble Park.

Safer suburbs include Heatherton, Berwick, Cheltenham and Cheltenham East, and Mentone.

From 2013-2014, some suburbs saw a big drop in burglary rates.

Scoresby dropped from one in 51 homes to one in 101. Highett dropped from one in 63 to one in 106. Heatherton dropped from one in 222 to one in 300.

Historical improvement

In 1997, break-ins were high. One in every 21 homes were burgled in Prahran, one in 22 in Noble Park, Springvale and Rowville and one in 25 in Clayton.

Generally, the rate has been trending down.

Rowville has seen a huge drop, down to one in 114 last year. Springvale is now down to one in 66, Noble Park one in 62, Prahran one in 61 and Clayton down to one in 42.

Youth disadvantage

In parts of the southeast, there are issues with both rental evictions and youth unemployment, according to Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) chief executive Emma King.

She says these are some of the factors that can turn people towards crime.
“They’re areas that have a higher level of unemployment and youth disengagement than the Victorian average,” Emma says.

However, Emma says there are good things happening in the southeast.

The Doveton College Early Learning Centre has a new way of approaching early education.

The centre’s programs, which involves input from many local community leaders, cover health, family and education from birth to Year 9.
“They’ve set up an environment where the kids have a sense of belonging, and they’re being supported through a high-quality learning environment.”
“It’s helping kids with their readiness to go to and stay in school,” she says.


Avoid being a target

Senior constable Paul Clarke says the best way to deter burglars is to make your home a difficult target with an alarm, good lighting, sensor lights, keeping trees and shrubs cut so they don’t obscure windows and keeping the house locked.
“As soon as someone breaks into the house and the alarm starts screaming, they leave immediately.”

“If you make it harder for them, they’ll move on.”
It is important to keep a record of the serial numbers of your belongings, either by keeping the receipts, photographing the serial numbers, or keeping a list on your mobile or a hardcopy. Paul says software on devices can help them be reunited with the owner.

Try iCloudf or Apple devices, or Google device manager for Android. There’s also Prey or Find My Android Phone.


Emotional toll

RACV general manager home services Aaron Flavell says while things can be replaced, there is an emotional toll from being robbed.

“It’s not nice knowing someone has invaded your space, and no one wants their home to become a crime scene,” he says.

Aaron says preventive measures like good lighting and visible window locks are important to lower your risk.
“Thieves don’t like the look of alarms, especially when there is a risk of a professional response,” he says.

2015 burglary statistics

This is the fifth in RoyalAuto’s Safe as Houses 2015 series on burglary statistics. The next in the series will focus on the southern metropolitan region including Kew, Burwood, Oakleigh, Malvern, Black Rock, Brighton and St Kilda.

How does your suburb compare? Search your suburb and find out. Find out more about RACV home security.


In 1997 there was, on average, a burglary every 11 minutes. RACV has been analysing the crime statistics back to this time to inform members about what was happening in their suburbs and to provide strategies for protecting themselves and their homes.

The base data, which RACV Home Services analyses each year, is sourced from Victoria Police crime statistics, and is matched with the number of occupied houses according to census and local government data.


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Written by RACV
February 22, 2019