A near 20 per cent overall crime hike in the Moorabool police service area is being driven by theft and arson rises, police say.
In 2016 the number of arson offences rose 11 per cent, theft jumped by nearly 22 per cent, while drug manufacturing and cultivation rose by 80 per cent.
Weapons offences dropped by nearly 10 per cent while assault offences jumped by 11 per cent. The region encompasses Hepburn.
Inspector Brendon McCrory said while the percentage increases were substantial, the number of offences committed remained low.
“In relation to arson – there’s a number of issues (that have been) raised. Offenders are deciding to burn stolen vehicles in this patch, not necessarily stolen from this patch, and dump to avoid forensic examination,” Inspector McRory said.
He attributed the theft surge to a rise in theft from motor cars.
“It’s theft from motor cars - which unfortunately we’re still having huge issues with - people leaving their cars unlocked across the rural areas and theft of number plates is definitely spiking.”
He labelled the increase in drug offences a successes – saying police had apprehended drug manufacturers and dealers in an attempt to stamp out drug use.
Police minister Lisa Neville said the government would continue to monitor the state’s rising crime rate and do all necessary to get on top of it.
"We're going to continue to monitor it and we're going to continue to roll out whatever powers and resources we need to get on top of this, so that Victorians feel safe,” Ms Neville said.
Member for Ripon Louise Staley labelled the crime statistics “disturbing” and said a greater focus on community safety was needed.
“Creswick, Clunes and Newlyn residents are being threatened; assaults have shot up 17.9 per cent while burglaries increased by a concerning 11.9 per cent, Daniel Andrews inability to get tough on crime is putting locals at risk and leaving people in fear.” Ms Staley said.
Community crime forums held in Daylesford, Creswick, Bannockburn and Ballan will be extended to other areas in the policing area. Inspector McCrory said it remained vital that residents were informed of the best ways to “victim harden” and ensure they knew to call triple-0 and report suspicious activity.