The safer in the country myth
There is a theory that people living in the country are burgled less often than those in the city. While this is sometimes the case, it is not as clear-cut as a country/city divide.
Consider the statistics for the western electoral region. The area is home to one of the top 10 most burgled postcodes, which cover Corio, Norlane and Northshore.
The western region starts with Melton Shire on the far outskirts of greater Melbourne. It extends up through Ballarat and to Wedderburn, but stops short of Bendigo. The lower half starts at Geelong and extends across the Otways to the border of South Australia.
The large region is home to four other postcodes in the top 40.
These postcodes cover Melton, Kurunjang and Toolern Vale; Exford and Melton South; Ballarat and Wendouree.
Despite Corio coming in at the 10th most burgled suburb, home burglaries in the greater Geelong area are down.
Is the country safer than the city?
RACV general manager home services Aaron Flavell says the perception that the country is safer than the city may have been true in 1997 when RACV first started compiling statistics, but it is not that clear now.
“This year, one-quarter of the top 40 most burgled postcodes are in regional areas,” he says.
“As home security heightens in metropolitan Melbourne, burglars are shifting their gaze to regional areas and holiday spots.”
Last year, in Part 8 of Safe as Houses, we discovered crooks were willing to drive up from Melbourne to steal from farms at night.
Whether it’s your home or holiday place, make sure it looks like someone is home at all times, Aaron says.
“Get to know your neighbours so you can help each other with bins and collecting mail, and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
“The strongest deterrent is a monitored alarm system backed up by CCTV. Burglars are reluctant if there is the risk of a professional response.”
Good news trend continues
Overall, home burglaries in Western Victoria are generally down, compared to last year.
In Geelong, one in 83 homes were burgled, compared to one in 56 last year. Burglaries were down in Avalon, Warun Ponds, Batesford and Herne Hill. Rates were up in East Geelong and North Geelong, but North Geelong is still below the state average.
In the Melton area, postcode 3388 covering Melton South, Exford and Brookfield ranked 29 in the most burgled postcodes.
Postcode 3337 covering Melton, Toolern Vale and Kurunjang ranked 31. However, home burglaries were down in both.
Postcode 3338 ranked eighth most burgled last year, with a rate of one in 33 homes.
This year, it’s down to one in 45 homes.
Postcode 3337 saw a smaller drop, from one in 44 to one in 46.
Leading senior constable Andrew King, the community liaison officer for the Geelong and Surf Coast area, says police have been both proactive and reactive to curb crime.
“We’ve been going out to large local shopping centres and speaking with the community,” he says.
Andrew says the division has also been distributing the Victoria Police residential crime prevention kit, which is also available online.
He cited a recent case where businesses in the area were being targeted. “One burglar was watching shops and going straight to where the cash was kept overnight,” Andrew says.
The offender was apprehended and police helped local businesses to be a less attractive target.
Andrew says not leaving money on premises, signs saying ‘no cash left on premises’, and leaving empty tills in the doorway are ways of showing there’s nothing to take.
If you’re going to be away, you can let your local police know with an absence of residence form.
Police can use this information to check in the area during their usual patrols.
Find out more going away tips and the absence from your residence form on the Victoria Police website.
2015 burglary statistics
This is the seventh in Royal Auto's Safe as Houses series, which reports on the long-term burglary statistics in Victoria’s regions.
RACV has worked with Victorian Police Crime statistics and the Census data to compile these figures since 1997.
The next in the series will focus on northern Victoria, including Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura, Echuca, Wangaratta, Mansfield, Kilmore and more.
How does your suburb compare? Search your suburb and find out. Find out more about RACV home security.