Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rochester police investigate spate of robberies

Many Rochester businesses are reviewing security, following a spate of thefts in the area.

July 23, 2014 3:47am

The sign on the door at Rochester Newsagency reflects how many local business are reviewing security.

A spate of robberies in Rochester in the past month has alarmed businesses and residents.

A break-in and theft of power and hand tools at Fehring Engineering last week follows a similar break-in at Ward’s Underground Offices earlier in the month.

Police also investigated recent burglaries at businesses in Mackay St, the Rochester Opportunity Shop and an attempted break-in at the Campaspe News office.

Of more concern has been the theft of items from the back of utilities parked in the streets.

‘‘These are easy targets for thieves,’’ Sergeant Dale Simm of Rochester police said.

Crime scene police have attended the break-ins, taking fingerprints and viewing CCTV footage.

Police have also accessed CCTV footage from nearby businesses to assist investigations.

Sgt Simm highlighted the need for businesses to ‘‘beef up’’ security measures.

‘‘The installation of CCTV equipment is important as it is both a deterrent and a valuable tool after an event for investigators.

‘‘As well alarms and signage can make the difference when deterring a potential thief.’’

Campaspe Shire councillor Leigh Wilson shared the concern at the growing number of robberies and break-ins.

‘‘This financial year, council has allocated funds in the budget for a study into the establishment of a CCTV network in the Rochester business area,’’ he said.

‘‘While council would not own the cameras as such we envisage a system whereby private CCTV systems owned by local businesses would be linked to a grid which could be accessed by the police when required.’’

A similar system successfully operates in the Bendigo mall and in Mildura and only the business owner and the police have access to any footage, to alleviate privacy concerns.

‘‘The study will be working closely with police to ascertain how best to develop the system and in the long term we will investigate funding options to make it easier for the system to be developed,’’ Cr Wilson said.

Many businesses were updating security measures to protect assets, including reviewing opening times and cash handling procedures, updating security cameras and alarm systems.

Sgt Simm also stressed the need of individuals to be aware of the surroundings.

‘‘If night shift workers are around in the early morning and see a suspicious vehicle loitering in the area take down the registration number,’’ he said.

‘‘This may not lead to anything but it may be a vital piece of evidence for investigators.

‘‘And householders should start looking at making your property safe by locking doors, keeping tools and other items locked away and when away from home have neighbours keep an eye on your house.

‘‘The world is changing and small towns are no longer places where we can leave the car unlocked, leave the backdoor open or throw a toolbox in the back of the ute.

‘‘It is everyone’s responsibility to become more aware of what is happening around them and to help reduce the risk of thefts.’’

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