A drug-fuelled crime spree outside Rochester has sparked a call for better resourcing to combat the scourge of ice in the region.
Campaspe Shire councillor Leigh Wilson called on the state government to address the issue following a spate of farm burglaries which residents say has escalated to daily thefts during the past month.
The Rochester ward councillor, who has been advising a community action group formed in the wake of the crime wave, said he was left with no doubt as to the cause of the offending.
“Without doubt drugs are the catalyst for this,” he said.
“It’s the nature of the things they’re stealing is to obtain a quick dollar to fuel their habits.”
Timmering hobby farmer Maree Traill, who said her neighbour had lost up to $10,000 worth of goods to the burglars, backed Cr Wilson’s assessment, saying those she suspected of being involved were “fairly ensconced in the ice epidemic”.
Ms Traill said the involvement of drugs in the offending had left some residents fearful for their safety.
“I’m home with the kids all day by myself and I don’t feel safe because these people would stab someone in the eye for a dollar and I’m only collateral damage in the way of them getting what they want,” she said.
Cr Wilson said a lack of staff at the Rochester police station had also compounded the issue.
“Manpower is right down which reduces their response capacity for the smaller issues,” he said.
“Now how many small issues add up to become a big issue?”
Victoria Police spokeswoman Sara-Jane Delaney said police in Rochester were aware of the thefts and were “working hard to address this issue”, having already arrested some of the recidivist offenders involved.
“In relation to staffing, while the Rochester police station has had some unplanned leave, local management have ensured that the roster is covered by neighbouring police divisions. The station is being staffed to its usual levels,” she said.
“Across the area they have also had assistance from highway patrol and put on additional night shifts to conduct proactive patrols. Since they introduced these two initiatives they’ve had positive results in the areas of road policing, drug detection and the identification of people wanted by police.”
Ms Delaney encouraged anyone who was a victim of crime in the area or had concerns about policing to come forward.
“Local management’s message to the community is – if a crime occurs, report it to triple zero,” she said.
“This is the only way we can build our knowledge of what crime is occurring and ensure an appropriate police response is provided.”