Crime rates have gone up in Canterbury towns sheltering refugees from quake-stricken Christchurch.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) said households were struggling to cope with "very stressed families from Christchurch" staying with them, and police across the region had reported an increase in domestic-violence callouts, The Press reported today.

It was "no time to be stoic", and people should seek CYF help before they reached "breaking point", said CYF southern regional director Paula Attrill.

Police said domestic violence and dishonesty and disorderly-behaviour offences had risen.

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector David Gaskin said in Timaru there were 70 calls in the month after the February 22 quake directly related to quake-displaced people, and that made a significant difference to staff workloads.

Domestic violence, shoplifting, alcohol-related offending and mental health-related callouts had increased in Rangiora said Detective Sergeant Rex Barnett.

Constable Lois Williscroft, of Rolleston, said domestic violence had increased as the town's population grew.