Auckland bucks decline in crime

By Michael Dickison

Auckland and the Waikato are bucking the trend of generally dropping crime figures in New Zealand. Photo / File
Auckland and the Waikato are bucking the trend of generally dropping crime figures in New Zealand. Photo / File

The crime rate has dropped 5 per cent in a year - but Canterbury accounts for more than half the decline as theft surges in Auckland and sexual assaults continue an upward trend.

Police yesterday released crime figures for last year, trumpeting a 15-year low in the number of recorded offences in New Zealand.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said the decline showed the public was "fed up with crime".

"More and more we are thinking and acting strategically, looking at the bigger picture and understanding the full impact of reducing crime on New Zealand's present and future," Mr Bush said.

But there was significant variation among the figures.

Crime in quake-stricken Canterbury shrunk almost a quarter, by 11,579 offences, contributing to the majority of the nationwide decline of 20,289.

Auckland and Waikato, meanwhile, saw increases of 6.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent on a per capita basis.

There were 54,453 thefts in the three Auckland region policing districts, Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau, an 11 per cent increase.

Retailers' Association northern regional manager Russell Sinclair said businesses were suffering from the worsening reality of shoplifting.

"Things are becoming more sophisticated, using decoys and working in groups, even to the extent of whole trolleys of supermarket goods being taken out," Mr Sinclair said.

The association had estimated that the crime cost the industry between $800 million and $1 billion a year.

"It's a total loss; you can't recover that," he said.

"All of us are paying for that in terms of prices of goods."

Retailers were bringing improvements to shops and more training for staff to try to slow the crime.

"It's common ... It's certainly a focus we'll have over the next 12 months," he said.

The association saw the penalties for theft as too light - on the rare occasions offenders were caught.

The police figures showed only 12 per cent of thefts were resolved in Auckland last year, sinking from 14 per cent a year earlier. Police districts outside the Auckland region resolved at least 20 per cent of cases.

"Sometimes that's the tip of the iceberg," Mr Sinclair said.

"There's a realisation now that this is the beginning of crime. If it's made easy at this point they can move on to bigger things."

Auckland District Commander Superintendent Mike Clement pointed to more thefts from cars as being behind the crime rate.

"It is frustrating to see an increase of more than 1000 offences in relation to thefts from cars," Mr Clement said.

"The simple reality is that if property is not left in vehicles in view of opportunist thieves, the opportunities for offenders to commit this crime type are severely restricted.

"It is most unfortunate that victims are only reminded of this fact when they find their vehicles have been broken into."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown downplayed the crime figures, saying they were skewed by liquor ban breaches during the Rugby World Cup and by "hot spots" for thefts from cars, including the parking lots at St Lukes, near the university, on Mt Eden and in the Domain.

"I've had a briefing from District Commander Mike Clement and I think it's important the police, the council and most importantly the public work together to ensure thieves targeting cars, for example, are given as little opportunity as possible to commit crime," Mr Brown said.

Automobile Association spokesman Simon Lambourne said the association was "very concerned about the high number of vehicle thefts in the Auckland region".

Auckland had 587 total thefts per 10,000 people, 77 per cent worse than any other district. The city also had the country's highest increase in assaults (5 per cent), weapons-related offences (4 per cent) and property damage (5 per cent) - categories recording a general decline.

Meanwhile, murders, a crime with a small sample size and high variation, fell 29 per cent nationwide to 39, the lowest since 1995.

But sexual assaults and related offences bucked the downward trend, as they have done for several years, increasing 15 per cent.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said there had been more reporting because agencies were sharing information better.

NATIONAL CRIME FIGURES
406,056 offences
922 per 10,000 population
DOWN 6%

Rising: Sexual assaults (+15%),
Falling: Assaults (-5%), harassment (-9%), robberies (-7%), drugs (-10%), weapons (-10%), property damage (-11%), public disorder (-7%)

By region:
Waitemata
36,214 offences
661 per 10,000 population
Rising: Theft.
Falling: Assaults, robberies, drugs, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 2%

Auckland
55,220 offences
1265 per 10,000 population
Rising: Robberies, theft, property damage, public disorder.
Falling: Harassment.
UP 7%

Counties-Manukau
50,228 offences
966 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults.
Falling: Assaults, harassment, drugs, weapons, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 5%

Waikato
35,355 offences
1043 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults, burglaries.
Falling: Robberies.
UP 1%

Southern
22,964 offences
750 per 10,000 population
Rising: None by more than 5%.
Falling: Assaults, harassment, robberies, burglaries, theft, drugs, weapons, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 14%

Northland
15,211 offences
976 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults, robberies.
Falling: Harassment, theft, drugs, weapons, property damage.
DOWN 11%

Canterbury
40,540 offences
730 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults.
Falling: Assaults, harassment, robberies, burglaries, theft, drugs, weapons, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 22%

Bay of Plenty
36,534 offences
1092 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults, burglaries.
Falling: Harassment, robberies, drugs, weapons, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 6%

Eastern
25,058 offences
1242 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults,
harassment, drugs.
Falling: Robberies, weapons, property damage.
DOWN 2%

Central
29,593 offences
844 per 10,000 population
Rising: None by more than 5%.
Falling: Robberies, theft, drugs, property damage.
DOWN 5%

Wellington
42,444 offences
884 per 10,000 population
Rising: Sexual assaults.
Falling: Assaults, harassment, robberies, drugs, weapons, property damage, public disorder.
DOWN 5%

Tasman
16,695 offences
944 per 10,000 population
Rising: Drugs.
Falling: Sexual assaults, harassment, burglaries, theft, weapons, property damage.
DOWN 5%

* Per cent changes are for per capita figures, except the national rising and falling crime categories, which are for totals

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 10 Jul 2014 14:17:21 Processing Time: 525ms