An avoidable crime is on the rise in the south-west, despite the overall rate of criminal offences dropping in the last quarter.
The Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday released data from the 12 months to the end of September, revealing there was a 6.5 per cent decrease in overall criminal offences in the south-west's six local government areas: Warrnambool, Colac-Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne and Southern Grampians.
But concerns have been raised after a recorded spike in thefts from motor vehicles.
Concerning increases included a 90 per cent spike in Moyne and a 24 per cent increase in Warrnambool.
Victoria police western region division two Sergeant Cameron Ross said residents were leaving themselves open and vulnerable by leaving their cars unlocked and valuables in sight.
"We talk about this on a daily basis and it just doesn't seem like the message is getting through," he said.
"We aren't trying to victim blame but people do tend to become complacent, particularly here where they think they live in the country and that it won't happen to them, but they need to lock up and remove all valuables from sight."
Sergeant Ross said while it might seem like "petty theft", being a victim of motor vehicle crime was an inconvenience and could lead to more serious offences being committed.
"When your laptop or your purse is stolen, it does affect you," he said.
"It's an inconvenience having to replace your cards - your driver's licence, medicare cards and things like that - and it does have a real flow on effect where an offender who uses payWave nowadays can rack up $1000 in spending within half-an-hour of stealing a bank card.
"It then takes a lot of police time to track them down and it causes a headache for the victims who are now trying to get their money back and to businesses who are then affected by these thefts from their store."
Sergeant Ross said that besides money, common stolen items included handbags, mobile phones, iPads and other electronics left on the front passenger seat.
He said tools were a big ticket-item commonly reported stolen from vehicles or utility tool boxes that were left unlocked.
"And that really does affect people's livelihood because they can't work and they then have to try and claim it on insurance or buy new drills and nail guns," Sergeant Ross said.
"It's a lot of effort that is really easily avoidable if cars are locked up and valuables are taken away or not left in plain sight."
Sergeant Ross said more often than not, vehicles were left unlocked, rather than being broken into.
He urged victims of motor vehicle thefts to contact police and any witnesses to the crime to call Crime Stoppers.
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