THE number of reported crimes within the Shire of Gannawarra increased by 12 per cent during a 12-month period ending September 30, 2017.
Crime Statistics Agency figures revealed officers based in the municipality received 645 reported incidents during the 12-month period - up by 72 in the previous survey period.
Kerang-based police officer, Acting Sergeant Travis Collier said that the increased numbers could mean members of the public are reporting crime more often.
"It has a lot to do with reporting and us then catching people – a lot more people are reporting things than maybe they did in the past," he said.
It was the second successive year reported crime numbers increased, with the September 2017 total 31 per cent higher than the September 2012 data.
During the same period, Victoria's reported crime figures increased by 16 per cent, but the State experienced a 4.8 per cent drop between September 2016 and September 2017 - one of its biggest declines in years.
The largest increase in reported crime within the municipality related to property and deception offences, which jumped from 229 to 290 in the space of one year.
Offences included in this category are arson, property damage, bribery, deception, and theft.
According to Acting Sergeant Collier, many of these incidents are as a result of thieves taking advantage of opportunities.
"We're not having padlocks cut, windows smashed, or locks jimmied – it's unlocked bikes and homes," he said.
"People need to be a bit smarter about theft and unlocked cars or homes - thieves will drive out to a farm if they know that you're not home."
Acting Sergeant Collier placed a strong emphasis on the value of reporting theft and other incidents in order to combat opportunistic criminals.
"More people are reporting because they are sick of things but sometimes people don't want to bother us," he said
"My advice? If you thought about ringing, I'd encourage you to ring."
Crimes against the person - which includes assaults - were slightly up, whilst the reported number of burglary and break and enter matters fell by 15 per cent.
"We can never be happy with any crimes [occurring] but the numbers are dropping which is good for public order," Sergeant Collier said.
"Pub patronage has also dropped off so with that comes a lower assault rate."