Northern Territory break-ins at highest level in more than a decade, with Alice Springs leading the pack





Updated

September 03, 2019 10:07:22

As a police officer dusts for fingerprints, Delia Povey is trying to come to terms with another break-in at her Palmerston home.

Key points:

  • Break-ins across the NT are at their highest levels since 2009, police data shows
  • Alice Springs, Katherine and Palmerston have house break-in rates above average, but Darwin is below average
  • Alcohol-related assaults across the NT are 20 per cent below the long-term average

“The front door [has been] forced open, everything gone through, the bedroom trashed, the safe broken open and the keys to the car stolen,” she said.

Ms Povey has lived in the Northern Territory for almost six decades, but the ransacking of her home has her contemplating life elsewhere.

“I’m done, I’m fed up,” she said.

“It’s just a conveyor belt where people go in and out of the system and nothing changes.

“What are they [authorities] doing to break this cycle? They need to do some punishment, surely?”

For Senior Constable Shane Turner, who is collecting evidence at Ms Povey’s home, the frequency of break-ins makes for a busy workload.

“We get it where [we] are going months on end where every day [we] are doing at least 10 jobs,” he said.

“And then it will drop off, usually through arrests.”

Today, the officer has four crime scenes to examine, including one in which an intruder entered a Darwin property while the homeowners were watching television at night.

“They are becoming more and more brazen,” Senior Constable Turner said.

“They’re coming into bedrooms while people are asleep, taking items from the bedside cabinet. Quite often we are hearing stories of people waking up to have someone over the top standing there.”

Police Minister Nicole Manison acknowledged the impact on victims.

“It is very violating, especially if it is property crime,” she said.

The NT Government was trying to tackle the issue through a multi-agency approach, Ms Manison said.

“There are real consequences out there for offenders, particularly young offenders, if they do commit crime,” she said.

“We’ve now put the Back on Track program [in place] so there are going to be even more options for sentencing, but also for diversion.”

NT break-ins at highest level since 2009

The ABC has looked at 11 years of police statistics that show the number of reported incidents as well as the rates of offending.

The statistics do not include the number of arrests or convictions.

In the 12 months to June this year, there were 2,472 house break-ins reported to police across the Northern Territory — the highest annual figure since 2009.

Once population fluctuations are factored in, it equates to a rate of 1,005 house break-ins per 100,000 people.

That is 28 per cent higher than the average rate over the past decade.

It’s not just homeowners frustrated with break-ins.

Over the past 12 months, 2,494 commercial break-ins have been reported across the Territory — again, the highest annual figure over the past decade.

Factoring in population changes, it equates to an offending rate of 1,014 commercial break-ins per 100,000 people — 22 per cent above the long-term average.

One crime statistic that has seen some improvement is alcohol-related assaults.

Over the past 12 months, there were 3,250 reported to police across the Territory.

It equates to a rate of 1,321 incidents per 100,000 people — the lowest rate in more than a decade, and 20 per cent below the long-term average.

“This is saving people from trauma, this is saving children and women from domestic violence,” Ms Manison said.

Jump to see the crime statistics in your region:

Darwin

While the break-in statistics are above average across the NT, some regions are performing better than others, including Darwin.

There were 695 house break-ins reported in the capital in the 12 months to June this year.

Once population changes are factored in, that figure equates to a rate of 817 incidents per 100,000 people — almost 3 per cent below the 10-year average.

Since 2009, there have been six years where Darwin’s house break-in rate was higher than the past year.

For commercial break-ins, there were 480 incidents reported in the 12 months.

That equates to a rate of 564 incidents per 100,000 people — 15 per cent below the 10-year average.

And since 2009, there have been seven years where Darwin’s commercial break-in rate has been higher than the past year.

“In the Darwin region, we have seen some improvement, but if you have been a victim of crime you still feel like one crime is a crime too many,” Ms Manison said.

Palmerston

In Palmerston, there has been an improvement in commercial break-ins, but not residential ones.

Over the 12 months to June, there were 347 house break-ins reported in Palmerston.

That equates to a rate of 922 incidents per 100,000 people —13 per cent above the 10-year average.

There have been three years where the rate for house break-ins has been higher than the past year.

For commercial break-ins, there were 470 incidents reported in the 12 months.

That equates to a rate of 470 incidents per 100,000 people — 4 per cent below the 10-year average of 492.

Since 2009, there have been six years where the commercial break-in rate has been higher than the latest rate.

Katherine

In Katherine, there were 128 house break-ins reported in the 12 months to June this year.

That equates to a rate of 1,201 incidents per 100,000 people — 33 per cent above the 10-year average.

Since 2009, there have only been two years where a higher rate has been recorded.

For commercial break-ins, there were 312 incidents reported in the 12 months.

That equates to 2,928 incidents per 100,000 people — 148 per cent above the 10-year average.

It is the highest commercial break-in rate for any year since at least 2009.

Alice Springs

In Alice Springs, there were 632 house break-ins reported in the 12 months to June this year.

That equates to a rate of 2,396 incidents per 100,000 people — 57 per cent above the 10-year average.

Since 2009, it is the highest annual rate of house break-ins.

For commercial break-ins, there were 401 reported in the 12 months.

That equates to 1,520 incidents per 100,000 people — 9 per cent above the 10-year average.

There have been four other years in which higher commercial break-in rates have been reported since 2009.

Police and courts ‘doing everything they can’

“It’s getting worse,” said Christian McElwee, who manages the Rum Jungle Tavern in Batchelor.

“The crime out there is completely different to what it was before [when] it was all little petty [incidents].”

On five occasions this year, Mr McElwee has been woken in the middle of the night after thieves broke into the business.

He said it had cost almost $20,000 to repair the damage, increase security and replace stolen alcohol because of the break-ins.

“The police are doing everything they can, the courts are doing everything they can,” Mr McElwee said.

“But what I’d like to see is perpetrators, once they are caught, go to court at an extremely quick pace.”

Topics:

crime,

crime-prevention,

police,

laws,

darwin-0800,

alice-springs-0870,

katherine-0850,

nt,

palmerston-0830

First posted

September 03, 2019 06:50:19



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