Burglary offences drop as police target serial thieves
A RELENTLESS pursuit of serial offenders by police has resulted in a record fall in house break-in crimes across SA.
Latest police figures reveal serious criminal trespass offences decreased by 12 per cent last financial year, at least 1626 offences, with the largest reductions in regional towns.
Assistant Commissioner Operations Paul Dickson said while there was “no single bullet’’ in tackling the problem, the continual targeting of recidivist offenders has had a significant impact. “It has been achieved by targeting individuals we know are involved in break-ins and making sure we pay a lot of attention to their activities,’’ he said.
In the metropolitan area, house break-ins dropped 625 offences to their lowest level ever, from 6843 in the 2016-17 financial year to 6218 last financial year, the equivalent of a 9 per cent fall. In regional SA, burglaries fell by 279 offences, from 1943 in the 2016-17 financial year to 1664 last financial year, a 14 per cent fall.
Non-residential break-ins such as on businesses and factories, showed a similar trend with a 9 per cent fall in the metropolitan area and a 14 per cent fall in regional areas. In cases in which a serial offender has been identified and arrested several times, police have asked the courts to impose stringent bail conditions, such as curfews if appropriate, that enabled police to monitor them closely.
Mr Dickson said: “Certainly when bail conditions are placed on individuals we police those conditions to ensure people are compliant, if they don’t we apprehend them and put them back before the court again”.
“There is no doubt a number of these individuals who are committing high numbers of these offences are recidivists and not only in the world of serious criminal trespass, they are committing other offences such as drug offending,” he said.
Another strategy component has been the focus on second-hand dealers who have been complicit in the disposal of stolen goods by turning a blind eye to their origins.
In July, The Advertiser revealed three dealers had been disqualified and another 16 charged or reported for a range of offences involving dealing with stolen goods or record keeping.
Police suspect the larger decrease in offending in country regions was because those living in smaller communities were more aware of activities within their towns and had a stronger relationship with their local police officers, making it more difficult for individuals to both offend and dispose of stolen goods.
“The success of the policing is knowing your community and having that dialogue with the community,’’ Mr Dickson said. “There is no doubt that nexus between the community and police is always stronger in a small country environment.’’
Police have continued to explore new methods of tracing stolen goods that were being sold online via sites such as Gumtree and on Facebook, with random checks on advertised goods now common.
“Our intelligence officers are continually searching the many different social media formats to identify stolen property,’’ he said. “We have had some good success in this area.’’ He said it was unlikely future decreases in offending would be at the same level, but “I am hoping at the end of this financial year we will be very close to this.’’