Crime increases as Geelong feels the pinch

Crime has increased in Geelong as people across the region continue to feel the cost-of-living pressures, according to the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA).

The CSA’s recorded crime statistics for the year ending March 31, 2024, were released on Thursday, June 20, and found that Greater Geelong’s total criminal incidents were up by 11 per cent from last year.

Incidents had increased from 15,180 in 2023 to 16,855 in 2024, with the rate of incidents per the 100,000-population growing by 8.9 per cent from 5367.6 to 5849.4.

Geelong hasn’t seen as many incidents since 2020, when 16,996 were recorded, with the primary offences being property and deception offences (15.2 per cent) and drug-related offences (24.3 per cent).

Theft was up by 13.9 per cent from 4617 incidents last year to 5261, the highest since 2020 at 6192.

Geelong Investigation and Response Manager Acting Inspector Nicholas Uebergang said the theft of items such as liquor, groceries and clothes were among the most common items stolen from retail stores.

“Our top priority is community safety, which is why police are out every day and night to prevent crime in our community, including home burglaries and car thefts,” he said.

“Our dedicated detectives in Geelong are also continuing to target and arrest drug traffickers and manufacturers, to reduce the harmful impact of drugs in our community.

“When population growth is considered, overall crime in Geelong has dropped 4.5 per cent when compared to pre-COVID levels. This includes decreases in burglaries, thefts and serious assaults.”

Burglary/break and entering offences were up by 14.2 per cent from 1401 incidents last year to 1600, and deception-related offences have spiked to a 10-year high at 42.2 per cent from 739 to 1088.

CSA chief statistician Fiona Dowsley said the “rapid increase” in crimes that involved property “may be related to cost-of-living pressures”.

“The increase in property-related crime was the largest contributor to the overall increase in crime in the last year,” she said.

“Alleged offenders being recorded for these crimes are drawn from all age groups, especially stealing from a retail store which is above pre-COVID levels.”

Drugs were a much smaller offence category among the Greater Geelong region, with 100 more incidents recorded than last year at 511.

Cultivation and manufacturing of drugs was up by 93.3 per cent, drug dealing and trafficking was up by 22.9 per cent, and drug use and possession was up by 14.4 per cent.

Other crime categories remained relatively stable, or at least under the overall increase, with justice procedure offences recording an increase of 10.3 per cent.

Crimes against the person decreased by 0.4 per cent, and so did public order and security offences by 0.1 per cent.