LAST month in Caulfield, real estate agent Todd Newton’s house was burgled. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods were stolen, along with his car.
Newton’s 10-year-old son was woken by a noise and came out of his bedroom to confront the intruders in the hallway.
“They threatened him; told him to go back to bed or they’ll kill him,” Newton said.
He has since upgraded the security in the family home.
“Australia’s changed, and not for the better. We’ve got to be more security-minded and for those of us that don’t want to be, it’s difficult,” Newton lamented.
Last Wednesday morning at 3am, Caulfield resident Ivan, who requested his surname not be printed, awoke to the sounds of smashing glass. He and his wife then heard the garage door opening.
“We jumped out of bed. We knew something was happening,” he recalled.
The burglars smashed the kitchen window, took their car keys, and sped off with both their cars as Ivan called the police.
The incident left the pair rattled. “Since it happened to us, I’ve spoken to a number of people. It’s just so rife in the area,” he told The AJN.
As a surge in criminal activity grips the area, Jewish families in Caulfield have been among those most affected.
Statistics show crime in Victoria has increased 8.3 per cent in the last year, while the City of Glen Eira specifically has seen a rise of 21.36 per cent.
Southern Metropolitan Region Acting Superintendent Lauren Callaway said the offenders generally travel from other parts of Melbourne, looking for high-end cars.
She emphasised there was “nothing at all” to suggest any of the attacks have been racially motivated, but rather, areas like Glen Eira and Bayside are being targeted for their affluence.
Callaway suggested that people in the area be more vigilant about their security, and develop a regime to secure their homes every night. She also encouraged people to contact police if they witness anything suspicious.
“One of our highest priorities is to respond to this increase in high-volume crime,” Callaway said. “We’re using a range of measures to tackle this particular issue.”
Meanwhile, Member for Caulfield David Southwick and Shadow Minister for Police Edward O’Donohue last Friday launched a petition calling for increased police presence in the area.
Speaking to The AJN, O’Donohue described the current situation as “extremely concerning”.
“And it’s not just the statistics; it’s the types of crimes that we are seeing now that really we never used to see,” he said.
“Home invasions, car jackings … the sort of crimes you would see on the six o’clock news from overseas you are now seeing with depressing regularity here in Melbourne – and particularly in the eastern suburbs.”
Launched in conjunction with IDF Training, the petition had gathered approximately 800 signatures at the time The AJN went to press.
“Our police do a fantastic job. They work incredibly hard,” O’Donohue noted. “They are working in a more challenging environment now perhaps than in the past. The government needs to give police the resources they need so they can do the job, and respond to this surge in crime that we are seeing in Victoria.”
On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews promised to deliver an additional 300 frontline police. The authors of the petition have said it is a step in the right direction, but “only a fraction of what is needed”.