A new analysis of reported crime has shown Rotorua has topped the country's rankings when it comes to breaking and entering, and thefts.
The data breakdown, carried out by private company Dot Loves Data, looks at crimes committed between August 2015 and July 2020 and is weighted for population.
Out of 66 district council areas covering New Zealand, the Rotorua District came out the worst for theft and breaking and entering and second-worst for illegal use of a motor vehicle and shoplifting. It ranked fourth-worst for assault and fifth-worst for theft from a motor vehicle.
Dot Loves Data government director Justin Lester said he comprised the data as it helped regions better understand what was happening locally.
Lester, a former Wellington mayor, said while the figures were publicly available, they were rarely analysed at district-wide level.
"Councils don't have paid data scientists ... To get access to this level of detail could be helpful."
He said he visited Rotorua during the last school holidays and had a lovely time.
"It's a great city but unfortunately it is a complex city and there is a bit of a dark underbelly there."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick wasn't available for comment but deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said it was disappointing to be ranked among the worst in the country.
Donaldson said he was not disputing the figures but it was worth noting that prior to Covid-19 Rotorua had on average 10,000 extra people in the city a day as a result of visitors.
He said the more people in a community, the more opportunity there was for crime and that could have affected the figures.
"Still, it is not a flattering look and it highlights the need to address the key social issues and how they are linked to crime."
He said the Rotorua Lakes Council was working with central government agencies as part of its Build Back Better plan with the key aim to create jobs.
"Jobs will give our citizens a lot more optimism and opportunity for a positive future rather than one of crime."
Watchdog Security chief executive Brett Wilson said while he knew only too well Rotorua's issues with theft, burglaries and shoplifting, the city also had pro-active police which gave residents the confidence to call police and report crimes.
"That means your stats are going to be higher."
Another factor impacting Rotorua's crime rates were "out-of-towners being dumped in emergency housing".
"There is a huge volume being dumped here from other cities simply because we have the space in motels and that's no doubt having an impact."
Wilson said the percentage of Rotorua's genuine homeless were small and he and his staff knew them well, but the people they were dealing with on a regular basis he believed did not come from here.
"There's no doubt in my mind these people are manipulating the system. They get free accommodation. Why would they want to level? They are rorting the system and affecting crime levels in our city," he said in his opinion.
Wilson said there was an attitude around town that people felt entitled to take what they wanted from others.
He said thefts, shoplifting and burglaries all came down to people needing to feed their drug habits which was a major problem throughout the Bay of Plenty.
Rotorua police acting area controller Inspector Phil Taikato said while Rotorua had higher figures compared with other districts, things had improved in the past 12 months.
He said prevention was now the focus for staff.
"Yes we were in dire straights but in the last 12 months there has been a substantial improvement. It's still up there but not as high as it was."
Backdoor retail store manager Christina Ranga said she felt shoplifting had gotten worse in the past year.
On Monday night about 10.30pm they had an incident where a young man allegedly biked to the outside of the store on Tutanekai St carrying a chair and then allegedly smashed the chair through the front window.
The young man then allegedly stole the mannequin which was wearing about $700 worth of clothing and carried it under his arm while he biked away.
Police arrested a person in connection with the incident a short time later.
Ranga said shoplifting was a concern and staff had to constantly be on the lookout, and not just with those who they suspected might look dodgy.
She said in the past they had "beautiful tourists" and elderly couples steal from the store.
"Some of our biggest customers are members of gangs as they seem to have the money."
Thieves were also becoming more brazen. She said in the past thieves would go into dressing rooms and try to rip off the security tags, or would work in pairs trying to distract staff.
Nowadays, they just grab items and run out the store to waiting vehicles, she said.