Crime on the rise in Moira Shire

By Liz Mellino

Crime is on the rise once again in Moira Shire with a 9.6 per cent increase in criminal incidents for the year ending March 2020.

The latest Crime Statistics Agency Data released last month paints an alarming picture for the region, with the increase marking a rise in criminal incidents for the fifth year in a row.

With a total of 1844 criminal incidents recorded for the year compared to 1682 the previous year, Wangaratta Local Area Commander Inspector Luke Kirton said police were aware of and monitoring the spike.

“Typically in Moira we see spikes in crimes for a period where a group will come to the area, commit a lot of offences over a short period and then we will identify them and charge them and put them before the courts which slows the offending rate down,” he said.

“In the last 12 months we have seen organised groups of offenders from Shepparton and Echuca undertake this type of offending ... we constantly monitor crime trends and as soon as we identify a pattern in offending we roster our staff accordingly.”

The latest data identified theft as the highest criminal offence group in Moira Shire, followed by criminal damage, breaches of family violence orders, non-residential non-aggravated burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles.

While these five offence groups each recorded an increase during the past 12 months, Cobram itself recorded a decrease in the number of criminal incidents by 20.

Of the 1844 incidents recorded in Moira, 45.3 per cent saw charges laid, 12.6 per cent saw no charges laid while 42.1 per cent remain unsolved.

With Moira Shire soon to receive an additional three detectives and a further four uniformed staff, Insp Kirton said the area would soon have greater flexibility and the chance to be more proactive.

“The police in Moira work very hard to keep the community safe and we have an excellent track record of identifying offenders quickly when they are committing crimes,” he said.

“When all additional staff arrive in Moira in the coming months we will have more police in Moira than ever before, and they will all be out on the road and in the community to work on reversing the increase in crime.”

Moira Shire also recorded a 13.3 per cent increase in total offences for the year, with 2479 offences resulting in a 53.4 per cent rate of arrest or summons.

The shire also saw an increase in alleged offender incidents, victim reports and family violence incidents for the year ending March 2020.

With a significant increase in statistics during the past 12 months, Insp Kirton reminded community members they all had a role to play in deterring thieves.

“Unfortunately the days of living in the country and leaving valuables and personal items unlocked in vehicles, houses and on farms are no more,” he said.

“We have opportunistic thieves that will travel long distances to steal your hard-earned valuables. Do not give them an even break, and make it as difficult as possible by removing items of value from cars, park in the garage or driveway as opposed to the street, keep gates and doors closed and locked in houses and on farms.

“Consider things like sensor lights, alarms and CCTV cameras which are all good deterrents and will make it less likely that you will be the target of a thief.”