Safe as houses Part 3: Northern suburbs feature high in top 40

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

Northern exposure

One quarter of this year’s top 40 most burgled postcodes are in the northern suburbs. This figure is stark enough on its own, but taking into account the entire northern metropolitan electoral region, the number jumps from one-quarter to almost a half – 17 out of the top 40.

In Safe as Houses, the inner postcodes are covered by part one, which looks at suburbs within a 7km radius from the CBD.

The 17 areas in the top 40 include: Carlton North and Princes Hill; Brunswick East; Fitzroy; Abbotsford; Clifton Hill; Northcote; Fairfield and Alphington; Coburg North and Pascoe Vale; Glenroy, Hadfield and Oak Park; Broadmeadows; Coolaroo and Meadow Heights; Coburg; Greenvale; Craigieburn, Donnybrook and Kalkallo; Thornbury; Preston and Preston East; Keon Park and Reservoir.

Only a handful of suburbs in the region fall below the state average of one in 73 homes burgled.

The safer postcodes include Melbourne, West Melbourne, Brunswick West, Campbellfield, Thomastown, Mill Park, and South Morang.

But it’s not all bad news, with crime down from the previous year in 15 suburbs in the region.

This includes some of those ranked in the top 40: Carlton North and Princes Hill; Glenroy Hadfield and Oak Park; Broadmeadows; Keon Park and Reservoir.

In Victoria overall, burglary rates in almost every suburb are lower now than in 1997 when RACV first began analysing statistics.

In the northern suburbs, one in every seven homes were burgled in Abbotsford in 1997, compared to one in 42 now, while in Fitzroy, it was one in nine, compared to one in 42 now.

The average burglary rate in Victoria is one in 73 homes.

New communities

Melbourne is sprawling and homebuyers flock to developments in fringe suburbs because of cheaper property and rental prices.

The north has been an attractive area, with Craigieburn now established and new developments announced this year.

However, Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) chief executive Emma King says while people are drawn to growth areas, they are often faced with a lack of infrastructure – services, nearby jobs and public transport. Any petrol price rises are likely to have a disproportionately adverse effect. Emma says infrastructure issues can be contributing factors to people turning to crime.

Hume has one of the highest eviction rates, she says, with evictions increasing by 63% between 2010 and 2012. This fits the general trend of an increase in burglaries in those years.

“We’re looking at two different Melbournes, in terms of opportunity,” Emma says.

Alert and alarmed

Craigieburn acting sergeant Chris Kenny says fewer neighbours during construction phase make building sites appealing targets.

“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.

RACV general manager home services Aaron Flavell says it’s important to secure your home if you are building or renovating.

“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.

Aaron says it’s never too early to install a monitored alarm, but make sure you get one designed for harsh conditions on a building site.

“Burglars often bypass homes they can see are monitored. CCTV acts as a further deterrent and means offenders are more likely to be caught.”

Safe at home

Acting sergeant Chris Kenny 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.

2015 burglary statistics

This is the third in RoyalAuto’s Safe as Houses 2015 series on burglary statistics. The series will next focus on the eastern metropolitan electoral region, including suburbs such as Heidelberg, Box Hill, Ringwood, Warrandyte, Croydon, Boronia, and Rowville.

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.