Safe as Houses Part 6 - Melbourne's Southern Suburbs
Three suburbs spike
Three of Melbourne’s southern suburbs are now in the top 40 most burgled, compared to none the year before. But the three postcodes, covering Kew East, Burwood, Ashburton and Ashwood, are unusual in a generally safe region.
One in 45 homes were burgled in Kew East, one in 49 in Burwood and one in 50 in Ashburton and Ashwood.
The Victorian average is one in 73 homes, with southern suburbs more commonly safer than that.
Beaumaris and Black Rock have a low rate of one in 151 homes burgled; in Cheltenham it’s one in 145, Bentleigh one in 130 and Armadale one in 129. These all saw a decrease in burglaries on the previous year.
Riskier suburbs include St Kilda and Hawthorn, with rates of one in 52 homes, Chadstone one in 59, and Kew and Kew North one in 52. These all saw an increase in burglaries on the previous year.
Curiously, in some areas, less targeted suburbs sit beside those that the burglary statistics suggest are risky.
More commonly burgled St Kilda (one in 52) sits next door to safer Balaclava (one in 105), riskier Kew East (45) is next to Balwyn (86), riskier Burwood (49) is next to safer Camberwell (85).
Leave everything locked
Kingston crime prevention officer leading senior constable Lisa Dobbie says theft from cars is a problem in the area, even when they’re parked in the driveway or garage.
She says while people often think cars are broken into at railway stations and shopping centres, statistics show cars are also burgled while parked in suburban streets and driveways.
Once they’re on your property, then it’s only an unlocked door away from getting into the house.
“It becomes opportunistic. They wouldn’t be house burglars if they hadn’t found an easy entrance to the house,” she says.
Lisa says burglaries are a problem during school drop off and pick up times. She says burglars see cars leave and assume no one is home.
Caught in the act
If you answer the door and someone makes an excuse for being there and something is not right, call 000.
If you don’t answer the door and hear them at a side gate, Lisa says call 000 and leave via the front door.
If you happen to find a burglar in the house, the best thing you can do, if you’ve got time is to get out of your house safely and to a neighbour and call 000, Lisa says.
“If the offender comes across you before you see them, just keep calm and tell them to take what they like.”
Lisa advises to stay out of their way, don’t obstruct their exit and let them leave.
“They’re not there to hurt you, they’re there to get in and out. They’ll be as surprised to see you as you are them,” she says.
Don’t engage in conversation, let them leave, and as soon as it’s safe to ring 000, Lisa says.
“It’s best to keep everything locked, even when you’re at home.”
Lisa says using a radio or TV is a good option whether you’re home or not, “making it appear someone is home is always a good thing”.
Think like a thief
Lisa says people generally only think of their home (or business) as theirs.
“Look at it from a different perspective. Forget about the way you live there and pretend you’re an offender,” she says.
Can you get up the side without climbing a fence? Can neighbours hear things? Is there good lighting? Have you left tools or bricks in the garden?
Think about the message your answering machine is sending, Lisa says.
“It should always say we can’t come to the phone at the moment, if you’re an elderly woman, ask a son or grandson to record the message.”
Always use ‘we’, not ‘I’, and always say ‘we can’t come to the phone’, not ‘I’m not home right now’.
For people living in Bayside, check out the Bayside Community Hub group on Facebook. Lisa says residents notify others of what is happening in the area via the group.
“When you get the right people and right administrators and people stay on track you can a really good sense of community,” she says.
Keep an eye out
Southern Metropolitan MLC Georgie Crozier has lived in the area for more than 30 years and says crime is reduced when the community works in partnership with police.
“Fighting crime isn’t just about what the police and government do. It’s up to everyone to provide information to help prosecute criminal activity.”
Georgie says Crime Stoppers is a key partner in fighting crime, with information from individuals leading to 1115 arrests in 2013 and charges laid increased by more than 30% compared to the previous year.
By the time a spike hits, it might be too late to secure your home, says RACV general manager home services Aaron Flavell.
“The good news is that crime rates can be influenced by the steps residents to ensure their homes are secure. It is best to act before a potential spike to gain peace of mind in relation to your home,” he said. “A big deterrent to thieves is the threat of a professional response to a monitored alarm like those installed by RACV which protect thousands of our members’ homes.”
2015 burglary statistics
This is the sixth in Royal Auto's Safe as Houses series. Part seven will focus on the western Victoria region that includes Geelong, Ballarat, Melton, Kyneton, Warrnambool, Portland and Horsham.
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