ORGANISED crime is spreading beyond Melbourne and infiltrating smaller towns including Creswick and Daylesford, Moorabool’s top cop says.
Moorabool Inspector Brendon McCrory said offenders were stealing cars, driving through Ballarat, Creswick and Kyneton raiding shops for cigarettes, dumping and torching cars in Reservoir and selling the cigarettes on the black market in Melbourne.
Per centage-wise crime has soared in the Hepburn area – however police are reminding residents the number of crimes committed was small to begin with.
A 91 per cent theft hike is driving the area’s crime spike with criminals, mostly from out of town, targeting rural areas where residents are less cautious about locking their cars, Inspector McCrory said.
“The main theme, is that the crime spike in the past quarter can be attributed to an increase in theft,” Inspector McCrory said.
“They are not locals, they are often from Ballarat, Melbourne, Melton.
“One of the major offenders was Shepparton based … it always will (make it harder) for police when offenders are from out of town.”
Sheds in Creswick and other rural areas are often broken into as thieves look to steal machinery.
Inspector McCrory said there was a large online market for second hand tools, increasingly through social media and other online selling platforms.
“(Ballarat) Inspector Bruce Thomas and I are both experiencing the same problem – a surge in theft of tools, from sheds and from tradies as well,” Inspector McCrory said.
“Why they are doing it is not known, however tools are being sold onto sites like buy, swap and sell.
Police recently made a significant arrest. The person was known to police and was allegedly responsible for hundreds of tool thefts.
Key arrests are increasingly import because police continually find a small number of recidivist offenders are responsible for the crime spike.
“Since we have made a number of arrests in Creswick the down-turn has been quite dramatic,” Inspector McCrory said.
Despite the crime drop, Inspector McCrory maintained it was as important for residents to “target harden” against criminal activity by locking their cars, securing their houses and even installing periodic lighting.
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