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Connecting people & communities CRANBOURNE Thursday, 6 April, 2017

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Casey has been confirmed the home-invasion capital of Victoria for 2016, according to official crime statistics. But Victoria Police, emboldened by a dent in crime rates in recent months, say “the worst is behind us“. In 2016, there were 370 aggravated burglaries in Casey - more than one a day and comfortably the highest of any municipality in Melbourne - according to statistics reported on Nine News. It was nearly double the total of 199 aggravated burglaries in 2015. Acting Superintendent Simon Humphrey, who oversees Victoria Police southeast region, said police had been “working harder than ever” in arresting twice as many home-invasion offenders in 2016 compared to 2014. “Over the last four or five months, overall crime rates have been reducing, and while we acknowledge we still have a lot of work to do, we feel that the worst is behind us.” Act Supt Humphrey said the “predominantly youth networked” offenders responsible for most of the home invasions were being targeted by the police’s Southern Metro Regional Crime Team. More of those arrested were also being remanded in custody, Acting Supt Humphrey said. The Southern Metro Regional Crime Team undertook “proactive policing in high risk areas” and “managing persons of interest” as well as working with counterparts in other regions of Melbourne. “We aren’t just trying to react to the crime when it occurs - we have a range of initiatives underway to try and get on top of it before it occurs. “Outside of policing the problem, we are engaging with the community and stakeholders on what we can do to stop these young people offending in the first place.” In the latest police figures, assaults - up 21 per cent, burglaries - up 32 per cent, and thefts - up 18 per cent - soared significantly in 2016.

Acting Supt Humphrey said the police’s “pro-active burglary investigation teams” operated in areas of known burglaries, but still many occurred due to home’s doors and windows being left unlocked. The exploding crime rate was also partly attributed to Casey’s soaring population. “Areas that were open paddocks just a few years ago are now full of houses and as the population increases unfortunately so does the opportunity for crimes to be committed.” Acting Supt Humphrey said there was no update on extra police numbers in Casey, as part of the State Government’s pledged 2729 more police over four years. Andrew Hartley and his family were sleeping as a group of burglars intruded and took his wife’s car keys and handbag from their Berwick home in August. Weeks later, he organised a 400-strong public forum on the home-invasion spate, with tips on home security. “Short of the laws changing, I don’t know how to stop it,” Mr Hartley said. “These kids get away with too much, even though the police do what they can.” The traumatised family have since moved to a “quiet street - at the end of a court and up a hill”. Rick Maaskant, who was stabbed with a pitchfork by intruders in his Hampton Park home in March, says the current law-andorder approach isn’t working. He has been burgled six times, had five cars, his wallet and TV remote stolen. “If you can’t do anything about it after six burglaries, what makes you think you’d be safe after eight or 20? “It’s a vicious cycle. They go to jail for three months, spend time with their mates and have a whale of a time. “Then they get out and it all starts again.” His solution is to fly out offenders and “drop them in the ocean”. “They could have easily killed me. They could have killed a lot of people. They steal cars and burn cars. “They have no respect for any of us. Why should we be so respectful of them?”

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By Cam Lucadou-Wells

News - Cranbourne - 06th April 2017  
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