Most frequent offence revealed

It’s the most common criminal offence in Ballarat: stealing from a motor vehicle.

Crime Statistics Agency data released this week revealed crooks were charged with the offence 1718 times in the 12 months to March 31, 2017. 

And people have been breaking into cars more than before. Back in 2012, only 997 offences were recorded.

The advice police have been dishing out for years is simple: lock your car and don’t leave valuables inside.

Inspector Bruce Thomas said most thefts were from unlocked vehicles parked throughout Ballarat.

Thieves also break in by smashing windows, according to Inspector Thomas.

“Ballarat police have always urged owners to lock vehicles and also to not leave valuables in view,” he said.

But not all heed this advice. 

Senior Sergeant Neale Robinson said crooks ruffled through cars in Alfredton late on Thursday night.

However, the new crime data does have a silver lining. It appears the offence is slowly dropping back to lower levels, with 88 less cases this year.

National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council executive director Ray Carroll told Fairfax Media the only sure way to avoid falling victim was to not leave anything behind.

"Thieves will smash the window and steal whatever they can see in the console," he said. 

"It's not just valuables they take, it's anything.

"People assume that just because the door is locked the car is safe, but any car is only as strong as a pane of glass. 

“They can purchase hammers that shatter the glass really easily and don't make much noise.

"And it costs about $300 to repair the window, which isn't worth claiming on insurance if the excess is $600."

Ballarat’s second most common offence was criminal damage.

This charge includes arson attacks, graffiti, damaging cars and making threats against someone’s property.

There were 1087 criminal damage offences recorded in the 12 months to March, down 29 from the year before.

And the third most common offence was non-aggravated burglaries, which senior Ballarat police have targeted by honing in on repeat offenders.

There were 986 aggravated burglaries in the city this year, down from 1262 a year ago.

Police have managed to stabilise overall crime rates in Ballarat.