Queenstown crime stats show increase in serious offences

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Sex offences, robbery, burglary, theft, fraud and drug offences all increased in the policing area covering Queenstown over 12 months.

Total recorded crime in the Otago Rural area decreased 4.7 per cent in the year to June 30, 2014.

But there were small rises across a range of serious offences – although proactive operations such as drug stings are partly responsible.

“Our overall results indicate a continuation of the great work of police staff in the area,” Acting area commander Inspector Olaf Jensen says.

Illicit drug offences rose 34 per cent, from 187 to 251.

Jensen attributes this to successful operations such as Operation Viking, which used undercover officers to target the flow of party drugs through Wanaka. Other smaller operations were conducted in Queenstown and Central Otago.

Burglary offences increased by 42 per cent, 59 more burglaries to a total of 198. However, Jensen attributes the burglary percentage increase to a change in recording implemented in 2013.

There were 10 more thefts to a total of 791 and 12 more fraud-related offences to a total of 112.

Sexual assault and related offences increased by five to 25 in total while robbery and extortion-related offences also increased by five to a total of seven.

Dangerous or negligence acts endangering people, public order offences, property damage, and offences classed as acts intending to cause injury – such as assaults - all declined.

Dangerous or negligence acts endangering people dropped 82 per cent from 20 to four.

Public order offences dropped 21.5 per cent from 688 to 540, property damage 16 per cent from 540 to 455, and acts intended to cause injury down five per cent from 403 to 383.

There were no murders this year or last year.

Total numbers show a drop from 3126 the previous financial year to 2980 recorded offences in the Otago Rural policing area – Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago.

“Our focus remains on preventing crime and making Otago Rural the safest place to live and visit in the country,” Jensen says.

“We have a greater focus on victims and ensuring our policing activities are preventing people from becoming victims.

“Otago Rural police staff lead some innovative prevention strategies particularly around alcohol harm with Operation Overload.

“This is playing a significant role in achieving continued crime reductions particularly with the large increases in the number of visitors to the Queenstown Lakes area.”

The number of cases resolved also decreased from by 3.5 per cent, from 1859 (59.5 per cent) to 1668 (56 per cent).