Repeat offenders in the crosshairs

Latrobe Valley police say they are tackling the latest crime statistics by targeting repeat offenders.

Crime Statistics Agency data released last week revealed the Latrobe local government area had the second highest offence rate in Victoria for the year ending 31 March, with 18,298 offences per 100,000 residents – an estimated 7.9 per cent increase from 2015.

The data reported the key area of concern for Latrobe was property and deception related crimes, with almost 6000 offences committed in the past year.

Latrobe police Acting Senior Sergeant Ben McWilliams said his experience supported the report, but he understood the number of offenders was significantly lower than the rate of crime. “The indications are that 16 per cent of our offenders commit 68 per cent of our crime,” Act Snr Sgt McWilliams said.

“We know that recidivism plays a really big role in driving our crime figures.”

He said a large proportion of the region’s crime was opportunist, targeting property, unlocked vehicles and visible valuables.

Act Snr Sgt McWilliams said the report’s fraud and deception offence rates concerned police, who noticed waves of incidents.

“Often with deception you might get a string of them, someone might use a fraudulent credit card, go to one store and then another or make multiple PayWave transactions. It’s quite easy for them to ring up a large number of offensives,” Act Snr Sgt McWilliams said.

To combat repeat offenders, Latrobe police have established a designated proactive task unit.

Act Snr Sgt McWilliams said through targeting breaches of parole and bail conditions the taskforce hoped to reduce the number of repeat offenders, and in return the region’s crime rate.

Assault statistics of more than 1500 over the past year are also of concern to police, who are currently investigating initiatives to increase safety around the Traralgon nightclub precinct.

According to Crime Statistics Agency data, crime rates have risen across all Gippsland shires.

-Baw Baw Shire has saw a 10 per cent increase in crime over the past year

-Bass Coast and Wellington Shire crime rates have risen 14 per cent

-East Gippsland saw an 11 per cent increase

-Latrobe crime rates grew 8 per cent on the previous year