Youth behind spike in Vic car thefts

Victoria has seen an 8.1 per cent jump in crime in the past year, according to new figures. (AAP)

Young people are responsible for a staggering 90 per cent of vehicle thefts in Victoria, new figures reveal.

Young repeat offenders, many of them gang members, are committing 90 per cent of Victoria's vehicle thefts.

The state's Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday released figures for 2015 showing an 8.1 per cent jump in overall crime in the past year.

Theft was up 11 per cent on 2014, while burglary and break-ins jumped 9.1 per cent compared with the previous year.

There was also an 11 per cent spike in vehicle thefts - which includes theft from, as well as of, cars - in the last three months of 2015.

Assistant commissioner Robert Hill says 90 per cent of those arrested for such offences are young people with a criminal history.

In the majority of cases cars were left unlocked, making it easier for purses, bags and laptops to be stolen.

Earlier this week Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said street gangs were driving the increase in vehicle thefts and aggravated burglaries.

In particular he pointed the finger at the Apex gang which gained further notoriety on the weekend when members ran riot in Melbourne's CBD.

Mr Ashton said Apex, based in the southern suburbs, had around 100 members, some as young as 12.

The statistics released on Thursday show weapons and explosives offences are up 17 per cent; drug use and possession is up 16.5 per cent; and drug dealing and trafficking is up 17.7 per cent.

Deputy commissioner Andrew Crisp said methamphetamine, or ice, use was behind most of the drug-related offending.

"Which is obviously a concern to us when you see the type of offending, the violent behaviour, associated with that particular drug," he said.

There was also a 9.2 per cent rise in family incidents such as domestic violence, sex abuse and child abuse in 2015.

Mr Crisp believes the rise in family incidents is partly due to greater community awareness and confidence in reporting such matters.

Premier Daniel Andrews says some of the figures are "completely unacceptable".

He pledged that if Victoria Police needed additional laws and powers "you will get them".

"If you need additional resources, you will get them," the premier said on Thursday.

But opposition leader Matthew Guy suggests the Labor government is partly to blame for the increase in crime.

"Daniel Andrews, while he's good on the rhetoric, the actions of fewer police on the beat, cutting and closing nearly half a dozen to a dozen police stations in his time in office is just not good enough," he said.

Source AAP

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