Police report a high legal action rate for retail theft, with 60% of offenders charged.
Police report a high legal action rate for retail theft, with 60% of offenders charged. Trevor Veale

Statistics show increase in theft, fraud

RATES of retail theft and fraud have increased in Coffs Harbour, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said while the numbers had spiked, instances were low when compared to other regions.

"From June 2014 to June 2016 we've seen retail theft in Coffs Harbour increase by 31%, from 201 instances up to 261," Dr Weatherburn said.

"Fraud has also increased by 29%, from 267 up to 345.

"Having said that, Coffs Harbour is still well down in the rankings, coming in 32nd for retail theft from 150 local government areas, and 64th for fraud from 150."

Dr Weatherburn said rates of other crimes had remained steady over the past two years.

"The crimes we most commonly report on - domestic violence offences, assaults, stealing from dwellings, motor vehicle thefts and things like that - have remained steady over the two years.

"With serious crimes such as murder, there simply aren't enough in the region for us to establish a trend."

Coffs-Clarence LAC crime manager, Det Insp Darren Jameson, said the increase in instances of fraud was related to people's susceptibility to scams.

"Online scammers will try to disguise themselves as a legitimate business, so you need to double check the email or web address you're being directed to," Det Insp Jameson said.

"We have seen an increase in retail theft with some organised groups, of mostly women shoplifters, targeting major stores.

"Despite the increase we have a high legal action rate for retail theft, with 60% of offenders charged.

"This is because of high quality CCTV footage."

Det Insp Jameson said regular police operations had resulted in more drugs charges.

"We're charging on average 10 people per month with supply of a prohibited substance and around 90 people per month with possession.

"These drugs are significant drivers of other crimes," he said.

In a win for Coffs-Clarence police, alcohol-related assaults were down 35% over the two years.

"That's 120 people in the past year who haven't been assaulted and those numbers are still trending downwards."

Police across the command are charging an average of 80 people per month with domestic violence offences and issuing an average of 90 AVOs.

"Domestic violence offences have a 90% legal action rate," he said.

"The message is clear: if you're a domestic violence offender in the Coffs-Clarence you will eventually be caught, charged and face court.

"Keep your hands to yourself."

Retail Theft

The items most stolen from retail stores in the Coffs-Clarence region from June 2014-June 2016:  

1. Alcohol  

2. Clothing  

3. Personal items (including toiletries, cosmetics, accessories)  

4. Electronics   

5. Food and non-alcoholic drinks