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by Greta Yeoman

Petrol theft could be set to become an issue again as fuel prices continue to rise, police say.

Canterbury rural area commander Dave Gaskin said residents should make sure any containers or tanks with fuel in them were locked up, because it would become a commodity to steal as petrol prices continued to increase.

“It’s a big worry,” he said.

“There are some opportunistic people in this world.”

Inspector Gaskin’s comments follow the publication of police crime data from July 2017 to July 2018, which showed the number of thefts and burglaries in Timaru, reported during the past year, had risen.

The number of thefts in the town had risen from 594 between July 2016-17, to 661 in the past year, while burglary numbers had also jumped from 427 to 435 in the same time period.

The number of reported thefts in the Mackenzie had also risen, from 42 between July 2016-17, to 63 in the past year.

While the Mackenzie District’s burglary rate had declined from 36 to 34, the number of burglaries in Waimate had risen from 58 to 79 during the same timeframe.

The number of sexual assaults, robberies, burglaries and thefts had dropped in the Waitaki District, except for reported assaults, which rose from 49 to 86.

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.

Insp Gaskin said while there had been an increased volume of crime, the “good news” was that it was mostly “low-level stuff”, like burglaries or vehicle thefts that did not directly harm residents.

However, he did want to remind residents to make sure their properties were safe and secure and items were locked up.

There were also plenty of issues in South Canterbury regarding drug usage, Insp Gaskin said.

He encouraged residents to report “anything suspicious” to police, even if it took a little while to get in contact with the stations in the region.

Police officers lived in the communities they worked in and wanted to keep residents safe, he said.

“We do care about the community,” he emphasised.