Drug crime skyrockets in south-west

Drug crime across the south-west has soared by a 100 per cent in the last year, new police figures show.

Drug crime across the south-west has soared by a 100 per cent in the last year, new police figures show.

DRUG crime across the south-west has soared 100 per cent in the past year, new police figures show.

The latest police statistics for the Warrnambool area show increases in drug assaults, car thefts and family violence.

Criminal damage has also spiked while the number of property thefts from cars has fallen.

But the biggest jump came from drug offences, which leapt from 120 in 2012/2013 to 240 in the last financial year.

Warrnambool Acting Chief Inspector Steve Thompson said more drug arrests were "indicative of the increased resources that are being deployed in this area".

"Whilst drug use and associated criminal activity continue to be a major focus, the increase in detected offences does not mean that the prevalence of drug activity is on the rise," he said.

"A dedicated tasking unit has been established to target illicit drug activity, resulting in an increase in detected offences," he said.

Fatalities on the region's roads also increased from four deaths to 10 in the last year.

Police are urging greater caution from farmers after a 32.8 per cent increase in vehicle theft, driven largely by stolen quad bikes.

"Farm vehicles such as quad bikes have contributed to the rise. Older vehicles and vehicles with the keys left in them are also targets for opportunistic offenders," Acting Inspector Thompson said.

In the Southern Grampians police service area, Portland and Hamilton saw a 49 per cent increase in theft from cars.

"The majority of these offences are preventable and it is disappointing to continually see that the offences involve unlocked vehicles with the valuables clearly visible," Inspector Nick Finnegan said.

Drug offences also increased from 145 to 176 in Southern Grampians.

"The majority of offending including family violence includes somewhere a drug or alcohol issue," he said.

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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