Theft and robbery rates drop significantly

A REDUCTION in heroin use and a booming economy have fuelled a dramatic fall in rates of theft and robbery in Australia since the turn of the century.

A New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report released on Monday showed the national robbery rate fell by 49.1% between 2001 and 2009, with NSW recording the largest decline with 58.9%.

In Queensland the robbery rate fell by 35.7%.

The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory bucked the nationwide downward trend with jumps of 53% and 11.3% respectively.

All Australian jurisdictions experienced falls in burglary, motor vehicle theft and "other theft".

NSW had the most significant fall in burglary, down 63.4%, and Victoria had the largest drop in motor vehicle theft, down 70.1%.

Changes in offence counting rules make comparisons in crime rates before and after 2009 difficult but the report notes that national theft and robbery rates continued to decline between 2009 and 2012.

The report attributed the decline in theft and robbery to a combination of factors, including a drop in people committing crimes to fund their heroin habits, a substantial increase in average weekly earnings and tougher law and order policies.

But bureau director Dr Don Weatherburn said there likely other factors in play.

"Changes in vehicle and household security and changes in police tactics may also have played a role," Dr Weatherburn said.

The absence of any regional breakdown in national recorded crime statistics hampered the research into the causes of the fall in crime, the report concluded.

Topics:  crime economy heroin robbery theft

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