06/07/2004 - 22:00

Name and Shame cuts theft on new home sites

06/07/2004 - 22:00

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Name and Shame cuts theft on new home sites

Theft and vandalism on new home sites across Australia cost the housing industry more than $8 million a year.

Western Australia’s component of that was $93,000 a month, about $1.16 million annually.

But an initiative of builder members of the Housing Industry Association of WA implemented in 2003 has resulted in a massive reduction in crime on building sites.

The Name and Shame campaign encourages those who witness the perpetration of a crime to call a 1800 number, and offers a $1,000 reward if their call leads to an arrest.

More than 60 builders now support the campaign, which will continue at least another year.

HIA executive director WA John Dastlik told WA Business News that theft from building sites was a continuing problem and that, ultimately, the cost of these crimes was borne by consumers.

“Many people don’t understand the impact this has on the community. A $400 to $500 cost is being imposed per house as the overall costing on a project,” Mr Dastlik said.

“Ultimately, if theft can be reduced then the cost benefit can be passed on to consumers and contribute towards housing affordability.

“In terms of cost, it is not just the cost of an item that is stolen, but also the repair bill to fix damage, which can be very extensive.”

Window frames and white goods have been particular targets of thieves in the past, but Mr Dastlik said the Name and Shame campaign had reduced the rate of theft of frames by 91 per cent.

Window frames are most often stolen for resale as scrap metal, he said, but with scrap metal dealers also becoming involved in the campaign, unauthorised sales have been significantly reduced.

“We commend the scrap metal dealers who make it increasingly difficult for criminals to sell stolen goods and remain committed to building safer communities,” Mr Dastlik said.

Builder Dale Alcock said the incidence of theft on building sites had reduced to a greater extent than the cost of contributing to the campaign, which made it very successful.

“This campaign basically is helping to prevent the cost of housing and insurance going up, which means more affordability for the consumer,” he told WA Business News.

“The $400 factored in to the price of a house to counter theft really only covers about a third of the cost if theft occurs.”

Those behind the Name and Shame campaign published the identities of convicted offenders in newspaper advertisements, a tactic Mr Alcock said has had a real impact on the community.

“This is a dynamic campaign which needs to accommodate change, and we are looking at maybe listing offenders’ names on signs on sites as well for further impact,” he said.

“There is a range of people committing the crimes, including juveniles, people from the industry and people from the community, however we believe that there have also been several syndicates cracked.”

Since the campaign’s inception in April 2003, builders and other participating members have reported 3,169 incidents of theft and vandalism, resulting in 51 arrests, 11 convictions (with several trials pending), and 27 rewards of $1,000 paid.

 

 

ON-SITE crime

  • Home building site theft and vandalism valued at $8m nationally/year.
  • WA’s figure about $1.16m/year.
  • WA’s Name and Shame campaign having a significant impact in its first year.

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