Part 2: Crime down in the west

Safe as Houses 2015

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Burglaries are down in the western suburbs.

Six of the top 40 most burgled postcodes are in Victoria’s Western Metropolitan region; however, five of those postcodes have seen a reduction in burglaries from the previous year.

The postcode covering Essendon North and Strathmore saw an increase from one in 69 homes burgled the previous year to one in 50.

In general, burglary rates in the west had been creeping up since 2009, but 2014 shows a strong improvement.

While Victoria’s current most-burgled suburb, Ardeer, is in the west, its burglary rate actually dropped from one in 16 to one in 25.

Last year’s most-burgled suburb, Williams Landing dropped to second place this year, dropping from one in 15 to a lower one in 25.

Top 40 most burgled postcodes covering Braybrook; Albion, Sunshine; Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans; Ardeer and Williams Landing have seen a reduction in home burglaries.

Under construction

When the 2013 burglary statistics were released, many homes in the area were still being built and theft from construction sites was a problem.

With the 2014 statistics, more areas are better established, which could contribute to lower crime rates. Burglary is always is an issue in areas where entire new suburbs are being built.

During the construction phase, fewer neighbours make building sites appealing targets, according to Craigieburn acting sergeant Chris Kenny.

“Sometimes people go inside and take the whole bathroom. It’s not a case of everything but the kitchen sink, but the kitchen sink too,” he says.

Chris says burglars often knock on the front door and if no one answers will go around the back, and in some cases the residents are home.

“Even if you don’t want to answer the door, call out ‘who is it?’ and if you aren’t satisfied, don’t open the door. That is a deterrent to burglars,” he says.

Know your neighbours

Crime prevention officer leading senior constable Craig McDonald encourages residents to know their neighbours.

“It’s the Australian way to look after each other, and it could be your house that’s being broken into,” he says.

Craig shared his 57-point checklist with us, and says many of the improvements are free or low-cost. View the checklist here.

RACV acting general manager home services Bill Bloodworth says it is important to secure your home if you are either building or renovating. Whether you’re hiring a construction company or building yourself, it’s important to get to know your neighbours early so you can look out for each other.

“Theft from building sites is all too common. It’s important to ensure deliveries are timed so valuable items are not left lying around the site unprotected. Appliances in particular should not be delivered and installed until you’re about to walk in the door and move in,” he says.

If you’re renovating or building yourself, it is important to have good security in place right from the start.

“It’s never too early to install a monitored alarm, but make sure you get one designed for the harsh conditions on a building site,” he says.

Contributing factors

Western Metropolitan Region MLC Cesar Melhem says burglaries in the region need to be understood in the context of the region’s complex diversity.

Factors include population growth, socio-economic diversity, decreasing economic growth  and a locking out of the regional population (particularly the region’s youth) from the local economy.

Cesar says the answer for the area is for a government to be sensitive and informed of the socio-economic and cultural nuances of the region, and offer policies that engage growth in the local economy and ensure jobs created from the growth go to the regional population.

“It is also critical we see investment in social infrastructure, such as public parks, meeting spaces, community centres and sporting facilities,” he says.

“Naturally, the greater number of social facilities available further discourages anti-social behaviour.”

A helping hand

Cesar says the western suburbs are a great place to live and raise a family, and there are great organisations in the west tackling the factors which contribute to crime, including burglary. 

YouthNow and others who operate out of the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine, are every day attempting to re-engage our region’s youth with the local economy.”

Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) chief executive Emma King says there are multiple factors that lead people to becoming disconnected and turning to crime.

“People are drawn to growth corridors because of cheap house prices or rent, but there is a lack of services, lack of jobs and poor public transport options,” she says.

“Often people are one change in circumstance from falling behind in payments, and increases in utilities or petrol prices has a huge impact on growth corridors.”

Emma says organisations such as Good Shepherd Microfinance are doing good things to help people living below the poverty line, or just above it. 

Security measures

Archicentre general manager commercial and community Cameron Frazer says visible security can help drive down the burglary rate.

“In some areas such as Sanctuary Lakes Resort in Point Cook, private security guards patrol the estates 24 hours a day,” he says.

Safer communities

Brimbank Council director community wellbeing Neil Whiteside says improving safety is an ongoing priority.

“Council is working to improve safety through good urban design, improving the quality of the public realm, increasing activity within the streets and liaising with local police,” he says.

“Council has also been working with the Regional Rail Link Authority to ensure that there are fundamental safety improvements to the Sunshine Station.”

2015 burglary statistics

This is the second in a series on burglary statistics in Victoria since 1997. Next is the Northern Metropolitan electoral region, including suburbs such as Pascoe Vale, Coburg, Craigieburn, Thornbury and Ivanhoe.

Please note: As electoral boundaries have been redrawn, it is no longer possible to compare areas based on previous years.

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 give them some ways to protect themselves and their homes.  The base data, which RACV Home Services now analyses each year, comes 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
August 07, 2014