Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

​The Great Property Crime Drop: A regional analysis

Don Weatherburn and Jessie Holmes

Issues paper no. 88

Sydney, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, July 2013

Release Date:    19 August 2013

Full report [pdf, 2.2mb]

Summary: While New South Wales as a whole experienced a decrease in robbery and theft offences between 2000 and 2012, the trends were not even across all parts the state. This paper describes the variations in long-term trends in robbery and theft across different regions of NSW.

Aim: To describe and discuss regional variation between parts of NSW in the rate at which theft and robbery offences have fallen.

Method: Percentage changes in rates of offending in robbery and various categories of theft were calculated for the period 2000 to 2012. Changes in the extent to which rates of crime across areas have become more similar were quantified by comparing the standard deviation in crime rates across areas in 2000 to the standard deviation in crime rates in 2012. Product moment calculations were used to measure (a) the extent to which areas with high crime rates in 2000 also had high crime rates in 2012 and (b) the extent to which areas with the highest crime rates in 2000 had the largest falls in crime in 2012.

Results: The fall in property crime and robbery across NSW between 2000 and 2012 has been very uneven; being much larger in Sydney and other urban areas than in rural areas. The fall in theft offence rates ranges from 62 per cent in the Sydney Statistical Division (SD) to 5.9 per cent in the Northern SD. Similarly, the fall in robbery rates ranges from 70.8 per cent in the Sydney SD to 21.9 per cent in the Northern SD. In some areas some offences actually increased. The Murray, Northern, Murrumbidgee, North Western, Hunter and Central West SDs, for example, all experienced an increase in steal from a retail store.

Conclusion: State Plan performance measures for improvements in public safety should take into account regional changes in rates of offending as well as changes in the overall volume of offending.

Keywords: NSW, property crime, robbery, theft, rates, rural, urban, metropolitan