Steady rise in fraud, theft in Illawarra

Thieves are targeting cars in Wollongong and houses in Kiama, and fraudsters are a growing problem in Shellharbour, according to the latest round of Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data.

Released yesterday, the September 2013 quarterly update shows a worrying trend for certain types of crimes being committed throughout the Illawarra.

BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said in general, the Illawarra tended to record lower than average rates of crime when compared with the rest of NSW.

However, he said increasing cases of property crime and fraud were the result of  a ‘‘steady increase’’ not ‘‘isolated little jumps’’.

‘‘They fluctuate but we run statistical tests so we know these jumps are not just chance,’’ he said.

In Wollongong, motor vehicle theft went up by 14.9per cent in the 12  months to September 2013 compared with the previous year.

That translates to 571 cars stolen in the 12 months to September  and 497 in the previous 12 months.

Dr Weatherburn urged Wollongong residents to always lock their cars to combat the growing trend.

‘‘Clearly, residents of Wollongong have something to worry about in terms of car theft.’’

In Kiama, thieves have swapped cars for houses, with theft from motor vehicles declining and theft from dwellings increasing.

In the 12 months to September 2013, there was a 24.6per cent decrease in theft from vehicles, but a 25per cent increase in theft from dwellings.

However, Kiama remains comparably low on the state’s list of stealing  hot spots, sitting at 92 for theft from  motor vehicles and 113 for theft from dwellings.

Shellharbour, meantime, has recorded a 27.1per cent increase in fraud during the same period, resulting in a jump of 177 incidents to 225.

The rise  in fraud cases  has   BOCSAR particularly worried. 

Dr Weatherburn said though traditional types of fraud such as not paying for fuel at the bowser had remained steady, ATM card skimming and internet credit card theft had increased sharply.

‘‘That should be the No1 concern in the Illawarra,’’ he said. 

NSW police tips for avoiding fraudsters

• Protect your PIN at ATMs

• Inspect ATMs for any suspicious signs

• Examine eftpos receipts to ensure they show the right company

• Have up-to-date antivirus software on your computer

• Don’t open links on emails, even from banks

• Never provide your financial details to anyone, particularly those who contact you unexpectedly online.

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