A poster in a crime-hit neighborhood of Bogota, urging people to report extortion attempts

Retail crime has risen by 17% in Victoria due to high loan rates and economic hardships, new statistics by the Crime Statistics Agency has revealed.

According to the data, half of all shoplifting instances were committed by first-time offenders, which demonstrated the influence of the cost-of-living crisis on community behavior.

Retail store thefts have increased significantly in Victoria, with offenses rising by 7,635 to 29,747. Food, alcohol, and groceries were among the most often taken items, indicating how big of an impact the high cost of living was having on individuals, 9 News reported.

Victoria witnessed a 10.1% increase in criminal events to 396,238 in the year ending March 31. The data showed that victimization rates increased by 7.6%, and events involving alleged offenders increased by 9.4% to 171,398.

The statewide total of family situations increased by 3.1% to 95,982, as per the report by Crime Statistics Agency (CSA), Victoria.

"We have seen a significant increase," Acting Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations Brett Curran said. "We believe this has been driven predominately by cost-of-living pressures."

Fiona Dowsley, chief statistician for the CSA, said that theft offenses had increased by 17% in the previous year. This surge is mostly the result of substantial increases in motor vehicle theft and burglaries, as well as a record number of thefts from retail establishments.

"This rapid increase in crimes involving the acquisition of property may be related to cost of living pressures. The increase in property-related crime was largest contributor to the overall increase in crime in the last year. Alleged offenders being recorded for these crimes are drawn from all age groups, especially Steal from a retail store which is above pre-COVID levels" Ms Dowsley said in the media release.

Reddrop Group operations manager Lincoln Wymer voiced serious concerns about the rise in retail crime.

"It's (been rising) considerably over the past couple of years," he stated. The main worry of the organization, according to Wymer, is that "shoplifters feel like it's a right of theirs to take what they want." He also noted how common it has become to steal expensive meat and alcohol.