Shire crime drops

Crime statistics show criminal incidents across the Yarra Ranges Shire have dropped.

By Mikayla van Loon

Crime across the state and in the Yarra Ranges has seen a reduction over the last 12 months, much of which can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data released by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) on Thursday 30 September showed a 3.8 per cent decline in the total number of criminal incidents committed in the Yarra Ranges.

Knox Region Acting Superintendent Jim Cooke said despite the rise in enforcement needed around Chief Health Officer directions, it was pleasing to see a small decline in criminal activity.

In particular he said it was good to see declines in offences such as theft, which fell 19.3 per cent and drug dealing and trafficking decreasing by 45.5 per cent.

The majority of crimes were in relation to breaches of the public health and safety orders, with 637 recorded compared to just 91 in the previous year.

Yarra Ranges detective sergeant Ross McDonald said it was quite apparent that crime had reduced in the last year.

He said this was generally because of the pandemic and the restrictions placed on people.

“We know Covid-19 restrictions have reduced opportunities for would-be criminals but this has certainly not been a time for complacency,” Superintendent Cooke said.

“Police continue to monitor criminal activity, particularly in urban areas where opportunistic crime is more prevalent, to keep the community safe.”

Worryingly though breaches of family violence orders did increase from 875 to 1101 for the year ending June 2021.

This was a trend that was seen across the state, with Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations Rick Nugent saying breaches of this kind reached 55,252.

“Challenging as it always is, family violence incidents have increased over the last 12 months, increasing to 93,440 which is a 5.9 per cent increase,” he said.

“Some of the biggest increases of family violence were in October to December coinciding with easing of restrictions last year where people were able to travel further and leave home for more reasons.

“Many of the increases have been driven by adolescent offending and also elder abuse.”

DC Nugent said offenders have also been moving to online platforms to harass their partners or former partners.

“We do know though that family violence is still under reported. It’s still under reported in CALD communities, it’s under reported in Aboriginal communities, LGBTQI communities it’s under reported as it is with the elderly and those with disability.”

Superintendent Cooke said family violence remains a priority for Victoria Police, even though the Yarra Ranges did see a small drop of 3.6 per cent in the total number of incidents.

At the beginning of the pandemic, DC Nugent said Victoria Police had a strong focus on protecting victims of family violence by ensuring those with bail conditions or intervention orders were checked on regularly.

Right across the board and particularly in the Yarra Ranges, theft, robbery and burglary each saw a decrease.

Items stolen from a motor vehicle decreased from 754 to 520, while other thefts decreased from 529 to 376.

Sergeant McDonald said this was most likely because restrictions meant more people were at home with cars in garages and offenders were unable to access properties or vehicles as easily.

Lilydale recorded the most offences in the shire with 1799. The urban areas of Chirnside Park, Mooroolbark and Kilsyth, as well as Belgrave, rounding out the top five.

“With Covid-19 restrictions expected to ease in coming weeks, more people will be on the move – giving would-be criminals the chance to do the wrong thing,” Superintendent Cooke said.

“The community can be assured police will be eagle-eyed as always to stop these people in their tracks.”