Melbourne’s eastern metro region is among the safest in Victoria – but locals cannot allow themselves to become complacent.
That’s the view of Victoria Police and Neighbourhood Watch groups, who say that community members need to work collaboratively with organisations such as theirs to help prevent locals becoming victims of crime.
“There are about 70 police officers assigned to Manningham and they can’t be everywhere in the municipality, but there are nearly 120,000 residents and we are everywhere in the municipality,” Manningham Neighbourhood Watch chairman Geoff Kloot, who joined the group more than 30 years ago says.
“So a little bit of effort from the community in supporting the work of the police can go a long way in making Manningham a safer place to live and work.”
Safer in the east
According to the latest crime statistics from Victoria Police, Manningham recorded one home burglary per 93 houses last year, well down on the state average of one per 67 houses.
Postcodes within Manningham including 3105 (Bulleen), 3114 (Park Orchards), 3111 (Donvale), 3113 (Warrandyte) and 3115 (Wonga Park) are classed as safer than average suburbs. Only 3108 (Doncaster) recorded results that make it riskier than the average suburb. The suburb of Doncaster East, which recorded one home burglary per 113 houses, is a particularly safe community.
It’s a similar story elsewhere in the eastern metro region. Local government areas such as Whitehorse (one burglary per 74 homes), Knox (one burglary per 101 homes), Maroondah (one burglary per 114 homes) and Yarra Ranges (one burglary per 131 homes) all recorded results lower than the Victorian average.
Only Monash (one burglary per 64 homes) and Boroondara (one burglary per 66 homes) are classed as riskier than average local government areas, and these two areas recorded only slightly higher results than the Victorian average of one burglary per 67 homes.
No postcodes in the eastern metro region are among the 10 riskiest postcodes in the state, but results place the likes of 3150 (Glen Waverley, Wheelers Hill), 3147 (Ashburton) and 3103 (Balwyn, Deepdene) as riskier than the average suburb.
Thieves targeting cars
Geoff Kloot from Manningham Neighbourhood Watch says that while house burglary rates remain low compared to the rest of the state, there have been an increased number of thefts from motor vehicles across the municipality in recent months.
It is a statement backed up by Rebecca Millin, leading senior constable and crime prevention officer in Whitehorse.
“Whitehorse has decreased in the number of reported burglaries but unfortunately it has been replaced by vehicle theft and theft from motor vehicles,” she says.
Victoria Police and Neighbourhood Watch recently printed flyers featuring tips on how residents can prevent thefts from their houses and cars. These forms have been dropped into local letterboxes and handed out at shopping centres.
Whitehorse, as with other local government areas, has introduced proactive policing measures to great success. Two years ago the municipality formed a Proactive Investigation Unit to work with recidivist offenders and particularly target the driving factors behind crime. In April more than 300 local drivers attended an Operation Safe Plate Day where their number plates were fitted with anti-theft screws in exchange for a gold coin donation.
Lights on and somebody’s home
Rebecca says that a key way for people to help prevent their house from becoming a target is to ensure it always looks like there’s somebody at home.
“If your house appears empty for periods of time it is increasing the risk of being burgled,” she says.
“We recommend always emptying your letterbox and bringing your bins in from the street – you can ask a neighbour to bring your bin in if you are away.”
“If you are going on a holiday, consider asking a friend or relative to visit your home every few days to switch on lights and appliances for an hour or two. This will give the impression that the house is being lived in as normal.”
“As for your car, make sure it is always locked, don’t leave spare keys in the vehicle and never leave valuables such as GPS units, wallets and phones in the car when it is unattended.”
Aaron Flavell, general manager home services at RACV, attributes the eastern suburbs’ low burglary rate to a combination of proactive policing and residents taking steps to protect their properties.
“It is important that residents continue to work to reduce the likelihood of becoming a target,” he says.
“While a home security system will always provide the best protection, and many homeowners in the eastern suburbs do own these, there are simple adjustments in mindset that are quick and free and can be ultimately effective.
“For a start, you should always keep all windows and doors locked even when you are at home as unlocked windows and doors at the side and rear of houses are the most common entry points for burglars. Garden tools and items like ladders should also be locked away and not accessible to somebody who walks onto your property from the street. These items, if unsecured, can be used to try to force entry into your home.”
Geoff Kloot, Chairman of Manningham Neighbourhood Watch, urges locals to keep the group’s principles in mind at all times.
“Lock your house when you go out and lock your car when you leave it – and ring 000 if you see anything suspicious.”
Story: Kathryn Kernohan
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