Police are making more arrests to drive down the rising number of cars being stolen and burnt out in the city.
Motor vehicle theft offences have risen by 31 per cent in Ballarat and 18 per cent across the state over the past 12 months, Crime Statistics Agency data shows.
Ballarat’s highest ranking police officer Superintendent Andrew Allen said the surge was reflective of a statewide increase in offenders stealing cars which were then used to commit other crimes.
“The theft of motor vehicles are linked to a number of categories of crime and are being stolen and used mainly by recidivist offenders to carry out such crimes,” Superintendent Allen said.
“Mostly locally stolen vehicles are dumped in and around Ballarat as well as more remote areas.”
Between April 2015 and March this year 522 motor vehicle theft offences were recorded in Ballarat, up from 259 in 2015 and 282 in 2014. In the same period this year police nearly 50 per cent more arrests than the year before.
Superintendent Allen said covert and overt targeted operations were seeing police nab offenders for a number of linked crimes including theft from and of motor vehicle, burglary and aggravated burglary offences.
“(Motor vehicle theft) is one of those categories that contributes to the overall increase in crime across the Ballarat Division,” Superintendent Allen said.
Crime Stoppers chief Sam Hunter said the Ballarat’s Most Wanted focus on car theft was driven by the high volume of that particular crime in the area.
“The whole campaign is based on what the police call high volume crime,” Ms Hunter said.
“All of these (named) offenders are recidivist offenders who normally have more than one warrant for their arrest.
“The offenders are breaking into houses to steal keys and cars. By getting on board the community is helping to provide information to police.”
The highly successful campaign has led to 9 out of a possible 18 arrests.
Many of the alleged offenders surrendered themselves to the police.
“The message is out there for anyone who has warrants for their arrests – go to the station and have a chat with police before your face is in The Courier.”
Crime Statistics Agency data revealed a 28 per cent increase in number plate theft between April-March 2015 and this year.