There was a noticeable police presence in Traralgon last week as members of local patrol joined forces with Neighbourhood Watch to launch a community outreach initiative.
The Latrobe Proactive Policing Unit set up shop with a mobile police facility shop on Grubb Avenue to chat with community members about a recent spike in crime.
Senior Constable Kelly Hicks said it was an effective way for police to offer advice and help safeguard from theft.
“It’s for the community to come and source some information about how to keep their house and their premises more secure to prevent burglaries and thefts,” Snr Const Hicks said.
“We’re still seeing that 75 per cent of car thefts have got cars unlocked, so it’s about reeducating the community about locking your car, getting your valuables out of the car.”
Neighbourhood Watch members helped passers-by swap number plate regular screws for anti-theft screws, as theft of registration plates also rises along with theft of items from unlocked cars.
“They’ve brought them down to swap over a few of the screws because we’ve had a bit of an increase in number plate thefts as well,” Snr Const Hicks said.
“It can also be a bit frustrating to learn that someone’s left their car open in plain view with a laptop sitting on the car and someone’s just walked along. It’s opportunistic.”
The mobile policing van, “a mini police station on wheels”, will be rolled out again at Farm World later this month to help address farm crime.
“Farmers, their instinct is that they don’t lock anything because they just want to go to their shed, get on their quad bike, turn that key and go,” Snr Const Hicks said.
“What’s happening is that people know that so they’re going to the shed and they’re getting the quad bike and off they go, so it’s about educating farmers that you can’t leave keys in quad bikes now.
“If there is an issue, if there’s been a significant crime they will set up that type of van as a communications point, so that if anybody has seen anything, that’s where you go and make your report there.
“We’re a unit in demand, so we’re going to try and hit the whole of Latrobe and do a town every few weeks or so, so keep an eye out on our Eyewatch (Facebook) page or the Neighbourhood Watch page.”
Snr Const Hicks reiterated the importance of reporting all crime, no matter how small, so that police can “help us help you”.
“We can’t get the stats to say OK, this is what’s happening, this is the trend that we can follow and this is how our response will be with that,” she said.
“It’s our community and we need to work together.”