Commercial break-ins increased 41 per cent in the first month of coronavirus restrictions in South Australia, according to new crime statistics.
- Violent crime is down or stable during the coronavirus pandemic in SA
- Businesses are suffering from break-ins on top of restricted trade
- More people are speeding in less traffic
A small increase in domestic violence has appeared in official figures, however, police and victim advocates say a bigger spike may still reveal itself once people are able to move more freely and report the crime.
The crime statistics for March were released this week after a delay because of the pandemic, SA Police said.
There were 513 break-ins to shops and other businesses, schools and churches in March 2020, compared with 364 in March 2019.
Strict public gathering and social distancing restrictions were first introduced on March 15.
Business SA chief executive Martin Haese said it was “profoundly disappointing” when many businesses were also suffering from slow or non-existent sales because of social distancing.
Business SA has run free webinars teaching business owners about how to protect their business from both physical and cyber threats.
“We do call upon all business owners to ensure their business premises are secured, whether they’re using surveillance, whether they’re checking their locks on the doors and their windows,” Mr Haese said.
“If you’re not trading and you’re not open as frequently as what you have been we please do call all businesses to ensure their premises are secure.”
Deeb Milky had his Brighton cafe broken into and cash stolen in April.
“It’s pretty disappointing, to be honest,” he said.
“It’s hard to deal with — not that they took so much … it is just more the inconvenience and it’s disappointing people are doing this while other people are suffering.”
SA Police has launched Operation Hurricane 2 to tackle crime clusters across the state, including what it says is a spike in break-ins, property damage, thefts and offences relating to cars, including car thefts, property stolen from cars, number plate thefts and petrol drive-offs.
“Through intelligence and analysis, SAPOL have identified clusters of crime across the state and will be proactively targeting these areas during Operation Hurricane 2,” a spokeswoman said.
“Police are deploying extra resources as required to these crime clusters, including local police, State Tactical Response Group, traffic officers, CIB detectives, police dogs and the police helicopter.”
Violent crime stable
Total “offences against the person” were down from 1,962 reported in March 2019 to 1,831, in March 2020.
Family and domestic-abuse-related crimes were up 6 per cent to 1,035, including some classified as “offences against property”.
Assaults reported to police in March were down 2.6 per cent compared with March 2019.
Common assault and assault against police were both down about 60 per cent, while serious assaults not resulting in an injury were up 70 per cent.
There were no murders reported in South Australia in either March 2019 or March 2020.
An SA Police spokeswoman said there had been an increase in the reporting of domestic abuse starting in January.
“All agencies are collaborating to ensure that vulnerable victims of domestic abuse continue to be supported and closely monitored, as well as the activity of perpetrators,” she said.
“We will continue to focus efforts to ensure people’s safety and this requires a collaborative approach with all the relevant agencies.”
Victim Support Service chief executive John Koerber said domestic violence services “have not experienced the uplift that was expected”.
“We think it’s still coming,” he said.
More speeding but less drink-driving
Speeding fines issued by SA Police were up 18 per cent compared with March 2019, as people took advantage of quieter roads, with 14,333 drivers penalised.
However, the number of people caught drink-driving was down 31 per cent after SA Police stopped doing random breath tests on March 17 because of concerns for officers’ safety.
Penalties for going through red lights were down slightly.
Cannabis-related fines were down 34 per cent.
Calls and online reports to Crime Stoppers were up 8 per cent compared with March last year.