Illawarra residents are 76.8 per cent less likely to have their car stolen than 13 years ago.
This is just one of the findings contained n the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) report The Great Property Crime Drop: A Regional Analysis, released yesterday.
The report showed the Illawarra leading the pack in regional NSW, recording a much higher decrease in property crime since 2000 compared with other statistical divisions outside metropolitan Sydney.
The drop in car thefts stood out for the Illawarra - the biggest in the state.
The region also fared well in break-and-enters (65.1 per cent decrease), personal theft (45.6 per cent) and theft from dwellings (43.3 per cent).
The report's authors contributed much of the findings to the decreasing availability of heroin, saying: "Around Christmas 2000, the price of heroin rose by 75 per cent and the purity fell from around 70 per cent to around 30 per cent.
"From this point on, both heroin use and crimes known to be commonly committed by heroin users began to fall."
But BOCSAR director Dr Don Weatherburn said it was not the only factor.
In relation to the drop in car thefts, he cited improved vehicle security and smarter policing - "making it harder for people to sell stolen car parts".
Statistics are adjusted to consider population growth and measure crime per 100,000 inhabitants.
Wollongong acting crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Kelly said the overall decrease enabled police to pursue a preventative approach to crime.
"Any reduction is a good thing," Inspector Kelly said.
While the Illawarra recorded decreases across all property-crime categories, the region trailed the rest of the state in its average decline in thefts from retail stores, thefts from cars, and robbery with violence or the threat of violence.
Metropolitan Sydney recorded the highest decreases.
Regional areas such as northern NSW and the Murrumbidgee recorded the lowest decreases in property crime.
In fact, some categories increased.