Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report shows rise in retail theft and fraud in Maitland

Maitland has recorded a mixed bag of results from the latest crime statistics, with a significant drop in steal from motor vehicle offences but a rise in retail store thefts and frauds.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report released Wednesday showed theft from motor vehicles dropped 34.8 per cent in a year – from 827 in the 12 months to June 2017 to 539 in the following year.

Maitland police officer in charge Chief Inspector Glenn Blain said police had made a conscious effort to combat the problem in recent months.

“There have been little spikes in localised areas, but it’s down across the board,” he said.

“We’ve deployed a lot of strategies targeting known hotspots.

“We’re out in that space turning people over.”

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison commended the work of police and also Neighbourhood Watch groups in taking charge to bring down the crime.

But Ms Aitchison said although it has decreased, property theft from motor vehicles continued to be problematic with more than one offence each day.

She said that figure was now matched by fraud offences, which have jumped 31 per cent. Police say contactless payment features on credit cards now made them easier to use once stolen, which could explain the rise in fraud.

Also of concern to Ms Aitchison was the 31 per cent spike in retail theft.

Ms Aitchison and police agreed the expansion of Stockland Green Hills as well as The Levee upgrade were an obvious factor in the rise.

“We’ve more than doubled the amount of retail stores, so that’s obviously drawing more shoppers,” Chief Inspector Blain said.

“But detection has also increased with improved technology and the deployment of loss prevention officers.”

Ms Aitchison believes the reinvigoration of Neighbourhood Watch may also be contributing, as their hard work is pushing criminals out of the suburbs and into the shops.

The MP said she would discuss the issue with the Port Stephens-Hunter police Commander and had made contact with Maitland Business Chamber president Matthew Bardwell, who invited police to address a chamber meeting on crime prevention strategies.

Ms Aitchison has also called on Police Minister Troy Grant to indicate if local police will be receiving more resources to deal with the increased crime statistics.  

“Police continue to go above and beyond in proactive and preventative policing, but they cannot continue to keep doing more with inadequate resources in the face of such significant increases in crime rates,” she said.