NSW Recorded Crime Statistics quarterly update June 2023

Link to reports summary:

Release Date: Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Latest recorded crime statistics released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) show that in the first half of 2023, retail theft returned to, but did not exceed, pre-pandemic levels.  As with many property crimes, retail theft fell substantially during the pandemic. In the last two years to June 2023, recorded incidents of retail theft recovered faster than any other property crime, increasing 48% from 2021/22 to 2022/23.  

Commenting on the findings, BOCSAR Executive Director, Jackie Fitzgerald, said incidents of retail theft fell dramatically coincident with the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, and increased steadily from late-2021. “There have been concerns that high inflation and rising cost of living have triggered a surge in shoplifting, but the view of retail theft presented by Police data does not support this. If emerging external factors like cost of living were driving an increase in retail theft, we would expect theft volumes to be noticeably higher than pre-pandemic levels.”.    

  • From January to June 2023, recorded incidents of retail theft were equivalent with (and not above) 2019 figures. This is true for Greater Sydney and Regional NSW. 
  • The item most frequently reported stolen in retail theft incidents continues to be Liquor, particularly bourbon, whiskey, and vodka, followed by clothing. 
  • While young people aged 14 to 17 years have the highest rate of prosecutions for retail theft by population, they account for only 15% of all legal actions. In 2022/23, men accounted for 59% of legal actions for retail theft. 

Five year trends in Major Crime Categories to June 2023 

Over the five years to June 2023, two of the 13 major crime categories showed a significant upward trend, eight showed a downward trend and three were stable.  

Two offences trended upwards in the five years to March 2023: 

  • Domestic violence assault (up 3.2% per year on average) 
  • Sexual assault (up 6.7% per year on average)  

Eight major offences trended downwards over the five years to June 2023:  

  • Murder (down 9.9% per year on average)  
  • Sexual touching (down 2.8% per year on average) 
  • Robbery (down 6.6% per year on average) 
  • Break and enter dwelling (down 7.0% per year on average)  
  • Break and enter non-dwelling (down 5.4% per year on average) 
  • Steal from motor vehicle (down 7.3% per year on average) 
  • Other stealing offences (down 7.6% per year on average) 
  • Malicious damage to property (down 4.2% per year on average) 

The five-year decline in property crime reflects lingering low-crime levels following large crime falls observed during the pandemic.  

Nine of the 13 major crime categories showed a significant upward trend in the two years to June 2023 : Domestic violence assault (up 8.7%), Non-domestic violence assault (up 16.2%), Robbery (up 26.6%), Break and enter dwelling (up 10.0%), Break and enter non-dwelling (up 14.3%), Motor vehicle theft (up 23.0%), Steal from motor vehicle (up 6.7%), Steal from retail store (up 47.5%), Other stealing offences (up 8.0%).   

For property offences, these upward trends reflect a return towards pre-pandemic crime levels, while most are still considerably less frequent in 2023 than in 2019. 

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