Think you're safest in broad daylight? Think again.

The time you're most likely to fall victim to a sexual offence, be intimidated, stalked or harassed, or have your house broken into is on a weekday morning or afternoon.

Figures from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, obtained exclusively by News Corp Australia, reveal that in 2019 the peak time for sex offences was on a Wednesday afternoon, when 451 offences were recorded from midday to 6pm.

However, all weekday afternoons saw sex offences rise to similar figures of approximately 400. That's four times as many sex offences as some other time periods.

So is the fear of being sexually attacked by a stranger late at night just an urban myth?

Not entirely, but it is much less likely to happen than being sexually assaulted at another time by someone you know. (According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Public Safety Survey, most sexual assault is perpetrated by a person known to the victim.)

 

Associate Professor of Criminology at The University of Newcastle Dr Xanthe Mallett believes we need to remember there's a difference between the fear of crime occurring and the reality of it actually happening.

"Certainly the fear of crime peaks at night. You fear walking down the street more at night because you feel more vulnerable. There are less people around and you can see less around you so certainly the fear peaks at those times," Dr Mallett said.

"We know that certain offenders are more active at certain times and it's also about what their motivation is and the availability of the victim.

"I would have expected the random sex attacks, if we looked at that specific category, to happen on a Friday/Saturday evening when victims are going to be vulnerable but that doesn't reflect the majority of the attacks."

Dr Xanthé Mallett says we need to distinguish between the fear of a crime occurring and the likelihood of it actually eventuating. Picture: Supplied
Dr Xanthé Mallett says we need to distinguish between the fear of a crime occurring and the likelihood of it actually eventuating. Picture: Supplied

When it comes to intimidation, harassment and stalking offences, Monday afternoon between midday and 6pm was the peak time with 1727 offences recorded.

However, similarly elevated numbers could be seen each weekday afternoon.

Dr Mallett believes this may not be so much reflective of when stalkers are perpetrating their crimes but rather the victim's awareness of it happening - which thereby results in a report being made.

"You're more likely to notice someone following you when you're going to the shops at lunchtime. If they're just sitting in the car outside in the dark you're probably not going to see them," she said.

Fellow criminologist, Associate Professor Michael Townsley of Griffith University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, echoed Dr Mallett's explanation, adding: "We could speculate that within the 12-6pm time frame there's probably three things going on as routine activities across society: there's people having lunch, there's kids getting out of school and there's people commuting and returning from work … so it may be just the availability of victims. At night most people are at home and if you're being stalked, at night you're probably in your house".

There are three main elements that need to be in position for a crime to occur — a motivated offender, a victim and a guardian, says Associate Professor Michael Townsley, Head of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Picture: Supplied
There are three main elements that need to be in position for a crime to occur — a motivated offender, a victim and a guardian, says Associate Professor Michael Townsley, Head of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Picture: Supplied

If there's a time you should double check the locks it's weekday mornings, when break-and-enters peaked across the state.

Wednesday morning between 6am-midday was the most popular time for break-and-enters, with 775 offences recorded. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were almost just as popular with close to 700 offences tallied.

Weekday afternoons from Monday to Thursday also saw the most fraud offences (between 2013 -2073 offences were recorded each day).

Retailers should pay particularly close attention on Thursday afternoon as the peak time for shoplifting is between midday to 6pm, when 3132 offences were recorded in 2019.
It's a dramatic spike, making it more than three times as likely a shoplifting offence will occur on a Thursday afternoon, than a Thursday morning (when the crime drops to just 880 offences).

This is one offender’s shoplifting haul, itemised by police after the man was apprehended during the 2019 Operation Lightfingers shoplifting operation, which targeted thieves across Sydney. Picture: NSW Police Force
This is one offender’s shoplifting haul, itemised by police after the man was apprehended during the 2019 Operation Lightfingers shoplifting operation, which targeted thieves across Sydney. Picture: NSW Police Force

"The time aligns with when kids would be finishing school, so perhaps it's kids shoplifting after school or maybe a particular gang," hypothesised Dr Mallett.

In terms of other theft, make sure you have your wits about you on the weekend.

Saturday night between 6pm-midnight was the peak time for robbery (190 offences), while the early hours of Sunday morning is when you should keep close watch of your car as it's when it was most likely to be stolen (277 offences).

The popular party nights of Friday and Saturday evening were the peak time for drug offences, (3697 and 3650 offences, respectively), while arsonists also chose Saturday night as the most popular time to light illegal fires (281 offences).

*Note: one incident can have multiple offences.

Originally published as NSW's most dangerous crime hours revealed


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