Bur­glary of­fences drop as po­lice tar­get se­rial thieves

The Advertiser - - NEWS - NIGEL HUNT MON­DAY SEPTEM­BER 17 2018

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.’’

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