Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Reported crime rises 13.2%

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There has been a 13 per cent increase in reported crime in Rotorua over the past year.
There has been a 13 per cent increase in reported crime in Rotorua over the past year.

Reported crime in the Rotorua district has jumped 13.2 per cent in the last year according to Statistics New Zealand's latest figures.

Rotorua's locksmiths have also noticed the trend with an increase in trade, while Rotorua's police chief wants to reassure the public that his staff are working their hardest to protect the community.

In the year ending June 30, there were 7887 crimes reported in the Rotorua policing district, up 13.2 per cent on the same period the year before.

The biggest increase was seen in the area of unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter, which was up 29.4 per cent - from 1713 reports to 2217 reports.

Also up were assaults at 9.4 per cent and thefts and related offences which were up 15.3 per cent.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust Rotorua spokesman Peter Bentley said while the police did a great job in general they had adopted a "fortress mentality" when it came to community policing after the closure of suburban police stations, such as the City Focus, Westbrook and Owhata.

"We definitely don't have enough police in Rotorua. Even the police are saying that, so it's a pretty serious issue.

"I would not be a policeman for quids - doing a thankless job with little support from judges when you see the type of sentences handed down," Mr Bentley said.

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said there were two elements to the increase in reported crime - a change in reporting practices and an increase in people coming forward to report family violence and child abuse.

"Some of the things that previously were being reported as a theft are now being reported as burglary and that's quite significant.

"Things such as someone reaching over a fence and cutting daffodils, someone who had cigarette butts stolen from a veranda, shoes missing from a front door - technically they are a burglary, but prior to those changes they would have been reported as theft."

He said with changing attitudes toward family violence people were reporting it more.

With regard to staffing pressures, Mr Horne said the challenge was police were competing for the same tax dollars.

"The case for investing in police is that we are continuing to improve and do a better job with what we have.

"These social problems can be very time consuming and if there was more investment in police there is certainly an opportunity where we could make a bigger difference than what we are at the moment."

But, Mr Horne said the figures did fluctuate.

"If you look at the 10-year trend, there is 25 per cent less crime in Rotorua today ... and it was only two years ago that Rotorua had the biggest crime decrease in New Zealand of 12 per cent.

"We are back to where we were two years ago and while that is not ideal a 25 per cent decrease over 10 years is very significant.

"We are not happy with the increase and we recognise it's a very invasive and disturbing crime when you are burgled, we have strategies in place to try and reduce that.

"We are catching and prosecuting burglars every other day of every other week and we have an excellent record in recovering stolen property.

"Our staff come to work every day to make a difference for their community and they put a great amount of work into making this community safer."

Armstrong Locksmiths shop manager Geoff Hill said he had seen a lot more call outs for burglaries.

"People are not just looking for physical security, but alarms, cameras and that sort of stuff as well, not just locks."

Key Accessories owner Neil McDonald said he had been a lot busier in the past year. but he could not put it all down to an increase in crime.

"But we do seem to do a lot of work after people get broken into. Turnover-wise we are definitely busier than 12 moths ago. We do a variety of work so it's hard to keep track," he said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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