Theft rate rising on the coast

RETAIL theft in Coffs Harbour has increased by more than 64% in the past 12months - the most significant rise in any local government area in NSW.

The latest data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has revealed 228 incidents of retail theft were recorded in the 12months to September - a rise from 139 in the previous year.

Coffs-Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said the crime was an ongoing area of concern.

"What we have seen locally is an increase in shoplifting incidents that are planned and organised by groups, and there has been a spike in thefts of high-end items from retail stores," Insp Jameson said.

"There is also a strong connection between items stolen, and items that are commonly known to be swapped for drugs."

Despite the rise, Insp Jameson said police were making a greater number of arrests.

"The legal action rate for retail theft in terms of arrests and offenders presenting to courts is extremely strong and upwards of 60%," he said.

Insp Jameson said strategies to identify offenders included regular operations and working with retailers on security measures.

Other areas of crime that increased over the same period included theft from cars (up 15.8%), sexual assault (up 12.8%), break and enter into a building other than a home (up 10%) and common assault (up 7.8%).

Crimes that fell included indecent assault (down 39%), robbery without a weapon (down 35.7%) and fraud (down 9.3%).

The most prevalent offence in Coffs Harbour was malicious damage to property with 811 recorded incidents.

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