The decline in robbery and theft: Inter-state comparisons


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Release date: Monday, 12 August 2013 Embargo: 9.30am

Rates of theft and robbery in Australia have fallen dramatically since the turn of the new century, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau's report focuses on the period between 2001 and 2009. Changes in offence counting rules make comparisons in crime rates before and after 2009 difficult but the report notes that national theft and robbery rates continued to decline between 2009 and 2012.

Between 2001 and 2009, the national robbery rate fell by 49.1 per cent. NSW experienced the largest decline in robbery (down 58.9%) and Tasmania the smallest (down 29.7%).

The Northern Territory and ACT bucked the nationwide downward trend in robbery with both jurisdictions experiencing increases (Northern Territory: up 53%, ACT: up 11.3%).

All Australian jurisdictions experienced falls in burglary, motor vehicle theft and 'other theft'. 1

NSW had the largest fall in burglary (down 63.4%) and the ACT had the smallest fall (down 32.3%). Victoria had the largest fall in motor vehicle theft (down 70.1%), with NSW coming in just below the national fall (down 60.3% compared with a national fall of 62.2%). The Northern Territory had the smallest fall (down 26.9%).

South Australia had the largest fall in 'other theft' (down 50.5%), with NSW coming in just above the national average (41.5% compared with a national fall of 39.3%). The ACT experienced the smallest fall (down 15.3%).

The director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, attributed the decline in theft and robbery to a combination of factors, including a reduction in the number of people committing crime to fund their heroin use, a substantial increase in average weekly earnings and tougher law and order policies.

"These are unlikely to be the only factors in play" he said. "Changes in vehicle and household security and changes in police tactics may also have played a role."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190

Copies of the report:


1 The ABS definition of 'other theft' includes: theft of motor vehicle parts or contents; theft from a person (excluding by force); theft from retail premises; theft (apart from motor vehicle theft) not elsewhere classified; and illegal use of property (except motor vehicles).