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Masterton crime on the rise

PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

1225 victimisation crimes within a year in district
Police taking a proactive approach

GIANINA SCHWANECKE and EMILY IRELAND
[email protected]

Every five hours, a Wairarapa person is targeted by crime, police statistics show.

And the region’s crime rate surpasses the national average per capita.

From June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, there were 1661 victimisation crimes in Wairarapa, a slight increase on the year prior.

Victimisation crimes include acts intended to cause injury, sexual assault, unlawful entry with intent, burglary, and theft.

The police data shows that crime in Carterton and South Wairarapa plummeted in the past year, but Masterton’s crime rate rose, despite dwindling crime over lockdown in the town.

From June to May, there were 1225 victimisation crimes in Masterton, a rise from 1126 the year before.

Meanwhile, there were only 168 victimisation crimes in Carterton, compared with 202 the year before.

In South Wairarapa, there were 268 victimisation crimes, compared with 325 the year before.

Wairarapa Police Area Commander Scott Miller said for the region’s population size, crime was pretty low.

“Wairarapa from a police perspective is a pretty safe place to be.”

He said victimisation crimes covered a wide range of offending, about 60 per cent of which was low level crimes such as thefts out of parked cars.

“If you look at burglaries over the whole year, we were having six burglaries a week in Masterton which is very low. You’re not going to get much lower than that.”

Of the three Wairarapa towns, Masterton [population 26,800] has the highest crime rate for its population – last year there were 4571 crimes per 100,000 population, compared with a national rate of 1541.

Carterton’s rate was 1734 crimes per 100,000 population, and South Wairarapa’s was 2414.

“The crime rates are certainly low in Carterton and South Wairarapa,” Miller said.

“Part of that is also the restructure we did around police staffing, increasing community and rural police and putting a tactical team in.”

Luckily for Masterton, things are looking up in the cooler months.

In April, there were just 65 victimisation crimes compared with 100 in April 2019.

In May, there were 69 victimisation crimes, compared with 143 in May last year.

Part of this was increased government and agency support in response to the covid-19 pandemic, Miller said.

“The benefit and minimum wage are up slightly and there’s wage support.

“We thought family harm and commercial burglaries would increase [during the lockdown period] and they did not.

“We were busy with covid-19 complaints [people not adhering to lockdown rules].”

Police had also taken a proactive approach by making regular contact with known family harm offenders in recent months and family harm rates had yet to return to what they were before the lockdown, he said.

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