By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS AND CASEY NEILL
EARLY teens and tweens are leading a spike in thefts and burglaries in Greater Dandenong in 2015.
Greater Dandenong Inspector Bruce Kitchen partly attributed the 18 per cent rise in offences by 10-19 year olds to the youthful car-thieving Apex Gang.
“But it is not necessarily all to do with that particular young group,” Insp Kitchen said.
He said the gang’s spate of home break-ins to steal car keys and cars drove a 100 per cent rise in aggravated burglaries in the region last year.
“The real concern is if the home-owner goes downstairs to get a drink of water and is confronted by (burglars), then anything can happen.”
According to the latest Crime Statistics Agency figures, offences committed by 10-14 year olds jumped from 101 to 167 in Greater Dandenong last year – a 66 per cent rise.
In this age bracket, burglaries tripled from 5 to 17 and thefts doubled from 30 to 60.
Insp Kitchen said the thefts comprised mainly motor vehicles, their number plates or items from cars, such as tools from tradies’ utes.
Such thefts were fuelled by the “ice epidemic” and more “kids” wandering at night, he said.
Among 15-19 year olds, nearly 1000 offences were committed in 2015 – a 13 per cent rise from 2014 levels.
Again thefts and burglaries rose sharply in this older teen group – up 56 per cent and 250 per cent respectively.
Weapons and explosives offences were up from 33 to 40, though assaults were down from 179 to 145.
Overall there were 19,498 offences recorded in Greater Dandenong, up from 16,104.
This was the state’s fifth highest offence rate and the 21 per cent increase was well above the 8.1 per cent figure for Victoria.
Insp Kitchen said there were a rise in commercial burglaries – from factories and shops – as well as an overall 60 per cent rise in thefts from cars, and thefts of cars up 37 per cent.
Insp Kitchen said thefts of two matching number plates accounted for 40 per cent of thefts of vehicles in Greater Dandenong.
He encouraged motorists to secure their plates with one-way screws.
Insp Kitchen said many thefts from cars were opportunistic and occurred because valuables were in plain sight.
He urged people to park their car under a street light or in a driveway, lock their car and take valuables inside.
“They’re predominantly in residential areas. They’re not in community locations such as railway stations or shopping centre car parks,” he said.
The number of drug cultivating and manufacturing crimes jumped from 41 to 81 – 97 per cent.
“That’s just a continual problem in relation to crop houses and in relation to ice,” Insp Kitchen said.
“Crop houses are utilised to finance the higher-end drugs.
“We concentrate on disruption activities in relation to crop houses.
“Ice remains a problem for us.”