THE best defence residents have against the skyrocketing increase in breaking and entering is to watch each other's property.
The latest figures released by Blackwater police show the town has been hit by a 135% increase in unlawful entries in the past financial year, although the majority of the offenders have been prosecuted.
Officer-in-charge Acting Sergeant Werner Crous said often the greatest asset police have in any property-related matters is "the members of the public who keep their eyes peeled and provide police with information".
He said almost all the targeted properties were unsecured.
"In almost all cases, the property that was stolen was liquor and cash," he said.
"The vast majority of these offences were committed by juveniles or young adults acting in a criminally-opportunistic fashion."
It is the opportunistic nature police and Criminal Investigation Branch officers Detective Sergeant Jock O'Keefe and Detective Senior Constable Chris Wheatley have cracked down on to stem the spike in offences.
In many cases, officers solved previously unreported offences by starting proceedings against a surprisingly small number of offenders.
"Blackwater residents (permanent or temporary is irrelevant) should ensure the opportunist is thwarted - the criminals are, for the most part, only opportunists, they are not of the intention to harm anyone, they are simply after items easily transportable and easily obtainable," Act Sgt Crous said.
Offenders were mostly juveniles under 17 years old, or young adults, male and female.
A percentage was juvenile crime where the offenders were diverted from the criminal court system by being officially cautioned or ordered by the court to participate in Youth Justice Conferencing.
More than half the offences were solved, despite the majority having no witnesses willing to come forward.
Businesses have also been targeted and most were unsecured or easily accessible, and the criminal logic behind the opportunistic crimes is simple.
"After all, why would someone spend days planning a break-in, expend energy on 'casing' the target and then have to sweat to actually gain entry to the premises when an unlocked door is just around the corner?" Act Sgt Crous said.
"The offenders are opportunists, they see something unsecured, they see the premises is unsecured, they enter quickly, grab what there is to grab and then decamp quickly.
"I know that we all believe that we are supposed to be entitled to a safe and unaffected lifestyle without the impact of criminal activity, and in Utopia, that may very well be the case.
"Unfortunately, we are on planet Earth and humans have a tendency to not quite adhere to the Utopian standard of living."
Police hints to property security include:
Lock and secure your doors and windows. Just because this is Blackwater it doesn't mean there are no persons here with a criminal mindset.
Secure your 'under-the-house' areas where you may keep your liquor.
Lock and secure your car and keep valuables out of sight.
Definitely remove the keys from the ignition as a minimum - there is no joy in a ride if the joyride was with your vehicle.
Secure the items on your veranda/patio.
Lock your toolbox on your ute tray.
Secure your car fridge - especially if the Engel is sitting on the tray of your ute.
If you have been "hit" before, consider security lighting.
Consider getting a dog (some research has shown people with dogs, regardless of size and type, are less likely to suffer break and enters than houses without dogs).
Consider CCTV. There are many reasonably cheap but very effective security cameras available.
Consider tightening up your security in general - after all, if your liquor was easily stolen once before, the crim might think it will be easily accessed again.
Finally, look out for your neighbours.
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