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Crime down but family violence up in Chch

Published: 10:20PM Tuesday September 07, 2010 Source: NZPA

Police say burglaries in Christchurch are down but family violence offences have soared more than 50 percent since Saturday's earthquake.

Provisional data showed that burglaries have decreased by 11 percent in comparison with the same time last year, despite initial reports of looting in the CBD following the quake and "known criminals" arrested after they dressed up as council workers and tried to enter the area.

Inspector John Price said there seems to be a bit of an urban myth that burglaries are dramatically increasing.

"We have arrested a couple of people trying to take advantage of this situation and we continue to take a zero tolerance approach to this sort of criminal behaviour," he said.

Price said police would also show zero tolerance towards any suspicious activity around unsecured or damaged property.

"People are generally reacting very well in this event and we encourage continued patience at this difficult time.

"Times like these do bring out the best in people and police and defence staff on the cordons have really appreciated this," he said.

However, it was also a time of significant stress on families for a number of reasons.

Provisional statistics show there has been an increase of 53 percent in family violence offences since Saturday morning in those areas affected by the earthquake.

Price said police know from experience that times of stress correlate with an increase in family violence incidents.

Police urged people suffering from stress to talk to family or friends or seek advice and assistance from agencies that can help such as Women's Refuge.

Judge Michael Crosbie, in Christchurch District Court this week, also warned that people caught looting after the Christchurch earthquake would be dealt with harshly by the courts.