Hunter armed hold-up plague

ARMED thieves have hit the Hunter hard this year, figures show, soaking up investigators’ resources and leaving permanent scars on their victims.

Senior police are frustrated by the high rate of armed robberies, with more than 85 incidents reported in the Newcastle Herald this year.

The figure has already eclipsed the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s figures to the end of July last year, with 10 more robberies in the Hunter so far this year and almost two more weeks in hand.

Thieves have notched up two fewer incidents than by the end of August last year, when the number eventually swelled to 125 robberies in total.

Alarmingly, 2012’s rising incidence of armed robbery shows little sign of abating.

Two armed robberies have occurred in the Hunter this week at Belmont and Raymond Terrace, with both thieves wielding knives.

The Herald has reported that Bureau figures for the year ending March 2012 showed robberies with a weapon other than a firearm had jumped 63per cent in the region.

Bureau director Don Weatherburn said at the time, while there had been no significant rise in a single Hunter command, the bumps had cumulated into a ‘‘major spike’’ across the region.

Newcastle City crime manager Detective Inspector Graeme Parker said detectives were investing more time following up the robberies and investigating links with other incidents.

Detective Inspector Parker said police remained concerned with the serious nature of the crimes, with dedicated investigators constantly analysing the crimes for links.

He said there appeared to be ‘‘a bit of a mix’’ of random and linked attacks, with some incidents crimes of opportunity.

‘‘[Armed robbery] is a very serious offence, we still see it as one of our most serious offences,’’ he said.

The year to March recorded a total of 173 Hunter armed robberies, a significant jump on 110 incidents in the previous 12 months.

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