Police urge the community to lock their cars and secure valuables

By Liz Mellino

For the next six weeks the News is working alongside Victoria Police to promote the Community Safety Network.

Shepparton has been selected as one of six towns for the second year of the program, a partnership between the Victorian community, Victoria Police, the State Government, Crime Stoppers Victoria and Neighbourhood Watch.

Four topics have been identified by the project — rural burglaries, theft from motor vehicles, firearm storage and tradie tool theft — and each of these will be covered in a story published in Friday’s edition of the News.

You may have seen the police Crime Scene Services van travelling around town.

Shepparton police Sergeant Ross Normington and his staff are usually the ones inside on their way to process the scene of a crime.

Sgt Normington, the officer in charge of the crime scene office, has been in the police force for close to 40 years, and for 10 of those has been the initial point of call to attend any crime scene in Greater Shepparton.

"We take the initial report of crime. When I say crime I mean volume crime, I mean burglary, theft of motor car, theft from motor car, criminal damages — offences like that," he said.

"We record them and then we attend the scene and we look for evidence at the scene."

Sgt Normington said a typical day in the office included attending the scenes of different burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles that occurred the night prior.

A high percentage of thefts from motor vehicles involve unlocked cars; it is an area of crime that takes up a considerable amount of Sgt Normington's time.

"It is very frustrating ... in regards to theft from motor vehicles a high percentage are from unlocked cars," he said.

"A lot of them are actually people that don't take care or they don't check to make sure (their car) has been physically locked."

While Victoria Police has been repeating the message for years, Sgt Normington said officers still had to remind people to lock their cars and secure their valuables.

With recent police feedback gathered for the Community Safety Network highlighting theft of or from motor vehicles as a concern within the community, Sgt Normington urged residents to work with police on the issue.

He encouraged the community to maintain responsibility for their valuables, which he said would assist police in their roles.

"We have been trying to reiterate for years but the most important thing is to lock your vehicle and secondly to not leave valuables in your vehicle because if offenders see valuables in the vehicle then they’ve got a reason to break into it," Sgt Normington said.

"They've got to be accountable for those two things really, it's no use crying wolf after it's happened."