March Crime Statistics

Theft and related offending has risen by 12 per cent in South Australia over the past year – largely driven by the increased reporting of shoplifting.

While the number of shoplifting offences being reported to police has dropped to the lowest level for 12 months – the overall level is still significantly higher than the previous reporting period.

The March rolling year statistics reveal while reported theft and related offences increased by 12 per cent during the period, fraud and related offences decreased significantly, while robbery and related offences and sexual assault related offences also decreased.

Serious criminal trespass offences showed minor increases, with residential SCT recording a four per cent increase and non-residential a six per cent increase. Both increases can be partly attributed to the forecast return to pre-Covid levels of offending and the continued targeting of recidivist offenders and those handling the proceeds of crime.

While the number of shoplifting offences increased by 29 per cent, it is noted the March figure of 1,455 offences is the lowest recorded for more than a year. It followed a reduction the previous month off a near-high in January of 1,721 offences reported.

The increase of shoplifting offences is not confined to South Australia; it is a national crime trend attributed to a range of socio-economic factors.

“In SA, police have been working proactively with the retail sector and individual businesses in the city that have been frequently targeted to reduce the harm caused by recidivist offenders,” Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

“This significant factor has contributed to businesses increasing their reporting which has in turn assisted police in combating the problem.

“While such reporting elevates the statistics for shop theft, it gives a much clearer picture of the extent of the problem while at the same time providing greater opportunities to both apprehend and deter recidivist offenders.

“This increased reporting trend is expected to continue and will further elevate the statistics.”

Besides several operational initiatives, police have continued a commercial arrangement initiated in 2022 with a privately-owned third party intelligence platform used by retailers, shopping centre operators, petrol stations and other law enforcement agencies.

The platform allows users to track and share information relating to theft, anti-social behaviour and other security incidents. This allows police to identify recidivist offenders and target special operations.

The most prominent example of this is Operation Measure, which has been running in the city since March 2022 and has so far resulted in 1,383 apprehensions and more than 8,000 charges being laid. Operation Measure primarily targets recidivist offenders with some individuals charged with dozens of theft-related offences.

Over the reporting period the 1,140 shop theft offences committed in Rundle Mall accounted for almost 58 per cent of shop theft offences committed in the city.

Besides Operation Measure, other initiatives have also been conducted in Rundle Mall to reduce offending. In March, a two-day operation that involved the Dog Operations Unit and increased foot patrols resulted in drug detection activity and numerous arrests and reports for a variety of offences.

Police data reveals suburbs with major shopping centres located across the metropolitan area record the highest number of offences behind Rundle Mall. Other locations also recording higher rates of offending include service stations and liquor retailers across the metropolitan area.

The significant increase in offences for receiving or handling the proceeds of crime – 39 per cent – is attributed to policing activities targeting offenders selling stolen goods on either through online platforms or second-hand dealers.

While homicide and related offences recorded an increase of 42 per cent – the number of murders recorded increased from 13 offences to 22 offences in the period. While not minimising the impact each of these incidents has on the victim’s families, such an increase can be regarded as a statistical outlier.

In each of the 22 cases, they have been resolved. The majority related to domestic violence related incidents, mental health, robbery or drugs while the remainder were due to other circumstances.

The Australian Institute of Criminology’s recently published National Homicide Reporting Program for 2022-23 reveals in recent years the annual recorded figure has constantly been in the mid to low teens with a low of nine murders committed in 2021-22.

The number of incidents involving violence towards police has continued to increase. The latest figures reveal a 26 per cent increase in assaults against police in the 12-month period – from 490 to 617.

While robbery and related offences have shown a decline of 11 per cent in the period, aggravated robbery offences have increased by 17 per cent with an additional 74 offences recorded. However, in March only 27 offences were recorded – the lowest monthly figure for more than 12 months.

SAPOL – Crime statistics (police.sa.gov.au)

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