Victoria Police statement in relation to Crime Statistics Agency data release – twelve months to end of March 2024

There were 535,673 criminal offences recorded in Victoria in the twelve months to March 2024 – an increase of 39,261 offences or 7.9%.

The true crime rate, which factors in Victoria’s population growth, stands at 7,687.5 offences per 100,000 people – a 5.5% increase from the year before.

While overall crime has gradually increased since Victoria emerged from the pandemic, offending has still not reached pre-pandemic levels.

The true crime rate remains 6.2% below the twelve months to March 2020, while there were 6,381 fewer criminal offences committed than in the twelve months immediately before coronavirus reached Victoria.

The top five offences to record the greatest year-on-year increase were:

• Theft from motor vehicle (59,160 offences, +9,281). While this offence recorded the greatest increase, there were still 5,248 less crimes of this nature than in the twelve months to March 2020. Police intelligence shows unlocked vehicles are targeted, with more than 60% of cars recently broken into in one hotspot found to be unlocked.

• Theft from a retail store (29,747 offences, + 7,635). Targeting of essential items such as food, alcohol and groceries is driving this increase. Other states are also experiencing rising shop steal offences, in line with inflation, cost of living pressures and high interest rates. Police intelligence indicates as many as 50% of offenders are first time shop stealers, while a quarter are first time criminal offenders.

• Theft (other) offences (48,339 offences, +4,638). The most common theft (other) offence is theft of petrol, which may also be linked to cost of living pressures.

• Motor vehicle theft (21,463 offences, +3,964). This is the highest number of offences since 2017. Police intelligence indicates the three most common places cars are stolen are from a residential area (with no associated offence), non-residential street or carpark, and during an aggravated burglary.

• Criminal damage offences (38,638 offences, + 3,045) round out the top five offences to increase year-on-year.

Victoria Police recorded the highest number of arrests in the last five years, with 67,937 people arrested and charged in the past 12 months.

Police intelligence indicates recidivist offenders account for over two thirds of the state’s total crime. This is particularly relevant for offences such as home burglaries and thefts.

More detailed analysis of key areas of interest can be found below:

Key crime trends

• Overall crimes against the person increased by 1.7% year-on-year. However, when population growth is considered, crimes against the person are at their lowest rate since 2019. Almost 55% of all crimes against the person were assaults, with 61.5% common assaults – lower lever assaults leading to no serious injury. Around half of all assaults were family violence related.

• Overall property and deception offences increased by 14.6%, however remained 4.3% below the twelve months to March 2020.

• Overall drug related offending decreased slightly (-2.4%). Within this category, dealing/trafficking (-5.4%), and use/possess (-2.9%) decreased, while cultivate/manufacture (+11.5%) increased.

Child and Youth Crime

• Overall child (10 – 17) and youth (18 – 24) offenders were responsible for 47,934 combined incidents – an increase of 10.9% year-on-year but 1.2% below the twelve months to March 2020.

• However, crimes committed by children aged 10 – 17 rose to their highest levels since 2010 (22,298 incidents, +20.1% year-on-year).

• Broken down further, crimes involving 14-17-year-olds (19,121 incidents, +22.6% year-on-year) and 12-13-year-olds (2,765 incidents, +2.4% year-on-year) were both at their highest levels since 2010.

• While the rates of offending are comparatively low, there was also a 52.6% increase in criminal incidents involving offenders aged 10 and 11 (412 incidents, +142) compared to 2023. This was the highest rate of offending among 10 and 11-year-olds since 2017.

• Recidivism among child offenders remains a challenge for police, with a 10.4% increase in children aged 10 – 17 committing repeat crimes (2,600, + 245).

• 35% of child offenders are repeat offenders who commit two or more offences. These young people represent the core group of offenders causing the most damage. However, to put this into perspective, this small group represents 0.4% of the Victorian population aged under 18.

• Children are also increasingly involved in more serious and violent offences, such as robberies, aggravated burglaries, and car thefts. For example, those aged 14 – 17 were overrepresented in crimes against the person (6,433, +1091), assaults (3,753, +277), burglaries (2,322, +627), car thefts (1,744, +444) and robberies (1,737, +701).

• Targeting Victoria’s worst child and youth offenders is a top priority for Victoria Police, with over 2,700 arrests made in the past year as part of two major youth focused operations – Operation Alliance and Operation Trinity.

• 392 youth gang members were arrested a total of 1,314 times as part of Operation Alliance. Just shy of 3,400 charges were laid in relation to these matters.

• 164 gang members were arrested three or more times, while 38 were brought into police custody at least ten times in the past year.

• While recidivism among this hardened core group of offenders remains a challenge, there are currently 91 fewer known youth gang members in Victoria than when Alliance commenced in September 2020.

• The impact of Operation Trinity, which targets predominantly underage burglars and car thieves, will be discussed in the next section.

• Sustained efforts are also made to connect young offenders with appropriate support services to break their continued cycle of re-offending. For lower-level offenders, police are offering cautions when appropriate to limit their involvement in the youth justice system.

Burglaries and Car Theft

• Overall, there were 25,915 home burglaries across Victoria- 2,653 more than the year before. Of these, 3392 offences were attempts (up 24.8%, +673).

• Despite this increase, the total number of homes broken into remains well below levels seen earlier in the decade. For example, there were 36,273 homes broken into in 2017 – 10,358 more than current levels.

• However, aggravated residential burglaries did rise over the course of the twelve-month reporting period by 18.4% (6,031, up from 5,093).

• Police intelligence reveals aggravated burglaries where cars were stolen or broken into recorded their highest counts since Victoria Police began monitoring these linked offences in 2018.

• Child offenders are responsible for a significant number of these incidents:

o Children aged 14 – 17 committing 2,322 burglaries (+37% and the highest number in the past five years).

o Children aged 10 – 13 committed 303 burglaries (down 25.9% from the previous 12 months, but up 48.5% from 2020). 10-13-year-olds were responsible for 84 aggravated burglaries – five years earlier they were only involved in 18.

• Police intelligence indicates more than three quarters of children arrested for aggravated burglaries were repeat burglars.

• Victoria Police has been addressing this issue through Operation Trinity, which has been in operation across metropolitan Melbourne over the past 15 months.

• In the twelve months to the end of April, Trinity arrested 630 people for more than 1,400 offences in connection to an aggravated burglary where a car was stolen.

• 83.3% of these offenders were under the age of 25, while 64.3% were aged 17 and under.

• Police intelligence indicates the number of aggravated burglaries where cars are stolen has decreased since December, with sustained enforcement playing a role in this reduction. Seasonal elements have also played a part, as police know there is greater home guardianship in the cooler months.

• However, child and youth offenders are changing their offending habits, due to being targeted by police or if more lucrative offending opportunities arise.

• Several young offenders known to Operation Trinity for breaking into homes and stealing cars recently turned to stealing cigarettes from commercial stores.

• Cigarette burglaries and robberies have increased sharply across Melbourne this year, with intelligence revealing around 80% of those arrested for these crimes under the age of 18. 40% of those arrested in relation to these matters were Operation Trinity persons of interest.

• A recent major investigation by the Eastern Region Crime Squad led to 46 arrests in connection to over 140 cigarette burglaries and armed robberies at service stations, supermarkets, and tobacconists across Melbourne this year.

• While most arrests were children, four adults were also arrested. Police will allege these men were the orchestrators behind the network of children aged 12- 17 who stole over $2 million of cigarettes and cash. This was a highly significant result, and police will continue to target those behind this offending.

Family violence

• Family violence related offending slightly increased, with a 3.1% increase in incidents.

• Victoria Police responded to a record number of family violence incidents – with almost 96,000 family violence callouts in the twelve months to March 2024. That works out to one family violence incident every six minutes in Victoria.

• Breaches of family violence orders remained stable (+0.6%). Most IVO contraventions are still in person, although tech-facilitated offending continues to be a concern.

• Sadly, there has been a number of high-profile family violence homicides in recent months.

• These tragic events underline why responding to family violence remains a critical priority for Victoria Police, with significant investigative and proactive resources dedicated to reducing the impact of family violence on victim-survivors, families, and the broader community.

Quotes attributed to Acting Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations Brett Curran

“Overall crime continues to gradually increase from the low levels recorded during the pandemic years.

“The scourge of family violence has been felt across the nation this year, with a number of high-profile homicides involving partners and ex-partners who were predominantly men.

“The response to family violence remains a critical priority for Victoria Police. We have thousands of police working tirelessly to apprehend family violence perpetrators and bring them before the courts to ensure the safety of victim-survivors.

“We are also proactively engaging with perpetrators to ensure they are complying with intervention order and bail conditions, so that victim-survivors feel and are safe.

.

“Crimes committed by children under the age of 18 also continue to rise at concerning levels, with this cohort significantly overrepresented in serious and violent crimes such as aggravated burglaries, car thefts, high risk driving, and robberies.

“Victoria Police continues to invest significant resources towards curbing these offenders – arresting seven youth gang members, child burglars and underage car thieves each day over the past year as part of our two major youth focused operations – Alliance and Trinity.

“There are a relatively small group of hardened child offenders causing significant community harm. This includes over 160 youth gang members who were arrested three or more times last year and another 38 who were arrested ten or more times as part of Operation Alliance.

“Police intelligence from Operation Trinity also indicates the top 20 burglars and car thieves in Melbourne have committed almost one fifth of all burglaries where a car was stolen over the past year.

“While family violence and child and youth crime remain significant concerns, it’s pleasing that almost three years since the final Victorian coronavirus restriction was lifted, our crime rate remains 6.2% below pre-pandemic levels.

“Victoria Police will continue to closely monitor new and emerging crime trends to ensure we always remain one step ahead of offenders to prevent crime and keep the community safe”.

/Public Release. View in full here.