Tack­ling build­ing site crime

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - by Yvette Brand

Build­ing con­trac­tors and lo­cal po­lice are ap­peal­ing for res­i­dents in de­vel­op­ing es­tates to be their eyes and ears for crime at con­struc­tion sites.

Res­i­den­tial es­tates in War­ragul and Drouin have be­come hot spots for crime over the past 12 months with sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in bur­glar­ies and thefts from con­struc­tion sites.

An ini­tia­tive de­vel­oped from meet­ings be­tween build­ing con­trac­tors and lo­cal po­lice is set to tar­get of­fend­ers through in­creased se­cu­rity and work­ing closely with res­i­dents.

War­ragul Po­lice se­nior sergeant Dun­can Bart­ley said po­lice and con­trac­tors were work­ing to­gether to send a mes­sage to of­fend­ers that they were tak­ing con­struc­tion site crime se­ri­ously.

But, he said, the ini­tia­tive more im­por­tantly fo­cussed on com­mu­nity as­sis­tance in be­ing the eyes and ears once con­trac­tors leave their sites.

Mr Bart­ley said res­i­dents al­ready liv­ing in the es­tates were the key to po­lice ad­dress­ing the in­creas­ing trend in bur­glar­ies and thefts.

“If we work to­gether and do this prop­erly and get an early hit, it sends a mes­sage…it shows we are all on the same page and on top of it.

“We could see there was an in­creas­ing trend and hot spots so we wanted to gather the rel­e­vant play­ers to solve it.

“By work­ing to­gether we can have a group think tank and de­velop pre­ven­tion tools.

“We will con­duct tar­geted pa­trols of hot spots but we need the in­for­ma­tion from con­trac­tors and res­i­dents,” he said.

Mr Bart­ley said 60 build­ing sites a day were open­ing for de­vel­op­ment across the shire so po­lice and the wider com­mu­nity needed to work to­gether to pre­vent and ad­dress crime.

Meet­ing on site at Water­ford Rise War­ragul last week, builders and con­trac­tors said they could not put a value on the amount of prop­erty stolen from con­struc­tion sites in the past six months.

Baw Baw CIU de­tec­tive sergeant Gor­don Hynd said thou­sands and thou­sands of dol­lars worth of house­hold goods, cop­per pipe, build­ing sup­plies, trades tools and power tools had been stolen in War­ragul and Drouin.

Mr Hynd said de­tec­tives were urg­ing build­ing con­trac­tors to not only se­cure and re­move all tools from sites, but also place iden­ti­fi­ca­tion marks on the tools.

He said dur­ing a re­cent ar­rest, a large quan­tity of stolen tools was re­cov­ered but there was no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“Any­thing that’s not nailed down they will take,” he said.

Leigh Allchin of Allchin Builders said the most vul­ner­a­ble time for bur­glar­ies and thefts was dur­ing the week of han­dover of new homes.

Ovens, kitchen ap­pli­ances, elec­tri­cal and light fit­tings were all highly sought af­ter by of­fend­ers, which Mr Allchin said were hot prop­erty dur­ing the week of han­dover.

But he said build­ing ma­te­ri­als also were tar­geted through­out builds, in­clud­ing tim­ber, roof sheets and win­dows.

David Mel­bourne of Ho­tondo Homes said a lot of the crimes were not even re­ported.

He said con­trac­tors reg­u­larly ar­rived on site to find some­thing mi­nor stolen, or some­thing stolen from ve­hi­cles on site, that might not have a lot of value but can dis­rupt work pro­gress­ing.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant for us (all con­trac­tors) and peo­ple in the es­tates to take pho­to­graphs and re­port things that aren’t right.

“We have to be vig­i­lant. It’s all about get­ting the res­i­dents in­volved, peo­ple that are liv­ing here al­ready,” Mr Mel­bourne said.

Baw Baw Shire also is sup­port­ing the ini­tia­tive to in­crease se­cu­rity at res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment sites.

Grants and ad­vo­cacy of­fi­cer Tim Sweeney at­tended last week’s meet­ing to dis­cuss op­por­tu­ni­ties for the shire to in­stall CCTV cam­eras at key lo­ca­tions in build­ings ar­eas.

Mr Sweeney sug­gested por­ta­ble se­cu­rity cam­eras that could move around con­struc­tion sites or hot spots.

Mr Hynd said cam­eras were of­ten a key start to an av­enue of in­quiry for po­lice.

He said CCTV footage or in­for­ma­tion from res­i­dents about ve­hi­cles, reg­is­tra­tions plates or sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity as­sisted with in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Meet­ing on site at Water­ford Rise last week to dis­cuss in­creased se­cu­rity ini­tia­tives at con­struc­tion sites are (from left) Bill Petrie (Aus­civil), Baw Baw CIU de­tec­tive sergeant Gor­don Hynd, War­ragul Po­lice se­nior sergeant Dun­can Bart­ley, Mick Heenan...

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