Speak out on crime
The single biggest thing people can do to prevent crime or catch a criminal is to speak out when they see something suspicious, Victoria Police says.
Call 000 if you see something wrong, Lisa Prince, sergeant of the Proactive Program Unit at Port Phillip, says.
“Many people think 000 is only for emergencies. But if you report something to your local police station, they will call 000 anyway, and the time this takes means somebody may have committed an offence or left the scene of a crime.
“The police do everything they can to help prevent crime but ultimately we can’t fight crime alone – we need the community’s help," Lisa says.
“The number one thing we are always reminding residents is ‘if you see something, say something’.”
In the latest in the 'Safe as Houses' series, we look at what's happening in the south-eastern area of Melbourne.
How the suburbs stack up
Port Phillip spans suburbs such as St Kilda, Elwood, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne and Albert Park. One of seven local government areas in Melbourne’s south-eastern region, Port Phillip recorded one home burglary per 63 houses last year, slightly worse than the Victorian average.
Port Phillip and Dandenong (one burglary per 53 houses) are the local government areas considered riskier than the state average, while Frankston (one burglary per 67 houses), Casey (one burglary per 73 houses), Glen Eira (one burglary per 73 houses), Bayside (one burglary per 92 houses) and Kingston (one burglary per 106 houses) recorded results that place them equal to or safer than the state average.
No suburbs in the south-east are classified among Victoria’s top 10 riskiest postcodes, but a number of suburbs within the south-east are classed as riskier than average including 3182 (St Kilda), 3184 (Elwood), 3186 (Brighton), 3200 (Frankston North), 3174 (Noble Park), 3175 (Dandenong) and 3177 (Doveton).
Doveton and Frankston North were named last year as two of the six most disadvantaged postcodes in Victoria in the report Dropping off the Edge 2015, produced by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia. The report mapped disadvantage across the country based on 22 social indicators including criminal convictions, long-term unemployment, family violence and child maltreatment.
On the flipside, south-east postcodes including 3192 (Cheltenham), 3194 (Mentone) and 3206 (Albert Park) are among the safest metropolitan suburbs.
Thieves raiding cars
Lisa Prince, sergeant of the Proactive Program Unit at Port Phillip, says theft from cars is a growing problem in the area. It is backed up by data from the Crime Statistics Agency, which shows that Port Phillip has the highest rate of stealing from motor vehicle offences per 100,000 people.
She says residents can take simple steps to prevent becoming a victim of theft – such as locking their car doors at all times and making sure items in the car are out of view.
“If offenders see items such as coins, CDs or GPS units inside your car, they can open the door if it’s unlocked or break the window to enter. Not only is it an upsetting thing to happen but it costs a decent amount to get the window fixed. By removing all your personal items from view, you will reduce the likelihood of it happening to you.”
CCTV for St Kilda
Port Phillip Council is about to begin a two-year trial of CCTV cameras on busy Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, funded by the council and the State Government’s Community Crime Prevention Program.
Casey Neighbourhood Watch chairman Rob Ward says his local government area, which includes suburbs such as Berwick, Cranbourne, Hallam and Narre Warren, with more than 9000 burglaries and thefts reported to police, has a crime rate that compares favourably with other outer metropolitan areas.
“Of particular concern, perhaps amplified by media reports and copycats, has been the activities of the Apex gang, invading homes in order to steal vehicles,” he says.
Rob says that the best way for residents to protect their homes is to become a member of Neighbourhood Watch.
“Practically speaking, even simply having a Neighbourhood Watch sign on your letterbox, a sticker by your front door and your personal property identified with the UV pen, goes a long way to being safer.
“By working together we can reduce the incidence of crime and assist the police in their efforts to catch and deal with offenders,” Rob says.
Always think prevention
Aaron Flavell, General Manager Home Services at RACV, says that residents must adopt a mindset of prevention at all times.
“Some people may be used to leaving their front door unlocked when they’re inside, or leaving their car unlocked if they’re just going inside for a minute. Thieves are opportunistic and allowing them even a minute or two to enter your house or car can be the difference between becoming a victim of crime or not,” he says.
Aaron says residents should do a self-audit of weak entry points at home, never leave heavy garden items on public display (they can be used as weapons to break windows) and always give the perception that the house is occupied even when you’re away for a few days.
“These things will quickly become a habit and ultimately lessen the likelihood of you becoming a victim of crime.”
“People with a monitored security system are three times less likely to be burgled than the average Victorian burglary rate.”
Story: Kathryn Kernohan