Marguerite McKinnon

A well-known phrase attributed to 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, is; There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Remembering this, when the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released its quarterly update of recorded crime statistics, the skill lay in reading and accurately interpreting the results.

That resulted in one statistic coming as a complete surprise for all the right reasons.

It showed that over the past two years, Junee has enjoyed a stunning drop in one serious form of crime – violent crime, which has been slashed by 50.6 per cent. It’s the largest drop in violent crime in NSW by a significant margin.

Senior Constable Jana Schiller (Left), Inspector Rob Vergano, Senior Constable Tim Hall and Leading Senior Constable Andrew Henderson. Image Struan Timms Photography.

In fact, Junee recorded a lower rate of crime than most other areas, even those of similar size.

Violent offences include murder, various forms of assault, including sexual assault, as well as robbery with or without a weapon such as a firearm and sexual related offences.

The result in Junee was in stark contrast to the much larger Wagga, which saw a 33.9 per cent rise in break-and-enters in a non-dwelling such as a business. But on the plus side Wagga experienced a 21.2 per cent drop in stealing from motor vehicles.

Acting Crime Manager for the Riverina Police District, Detective Inspector Peter Hayes, said that the improvement could be put down to pro-active policing and common sense amongst drivers.

“More people are locking their cars which we weren’t seeing,” Detective Inspector Hayes said.

“As for the break-ins, that’s been attributed to a number of offenders. Two of them are now in custody, so, fingers crossed, we’ll see a decrease in that area,” he said.

This week Junee locals have universally welcomed the slashed crime rate.

A spokesperson for Junee Thumbs Up Thumbs Down described it as an amazing statistic.

“I believe it has a lot to do with the new policing in town, and the way they are now engaging with the community. I also believe residents feel more inclined to report matters to police because they’ve proven in recent months that they are willing to act on information supplied by the public.”

The Railway Café owner, Debbie Daley, agreed that Junee feels much safer because of a high police visibility and growing community trust in local police.

“It’s definitely noticeable around town. The police are always out and about, and since Inspector Rob Vergano came to town he’s been really active against crime,” Debbie said.

Jane Gentle

Junee Capital Chemist owner, Jane Gentle, said that the results will comfort a lot of locals, especially older residents.

“It’s a massive drop in violent crime. If we do hear about crime, we’re hearing more about police raids, drug busts and search warrants, rather than police reacting to violent crime,” Jane said.

Other professionals who declined to be named suggested that the drop in crime is directly connected to the rise in rent prices and occupancy as tradespeople fill accommodation while construction is underway at Junee jail.

“These people don’t cause trouble. They just work hard and make our community better,” a local business operator observed.

Builder, Paul Ellen from Hotondo Homes, moved to Junee six years ago.

Paul Ellen

“We haven’t had any problems, but we see Inspector Vergano and the police being visible in the community, so it’s really good,” Paul said.

Inspector Rob Vergano, who has seven police officers under his charge, moved to Junee 12 months ago and attributes the encouraging results to the community working with police long before he arrived.

“Junee is a beautiful town with more than 6000 hardworking people who are proud of where they live,” Inspector Vergano said.

“Since Strike Force Raptor was conducted nearly two years ago some criminal elements around the township have been cleaned out due to police acting on information from the public.

“Last week’s search warrant in Goulburn Street, the Marquis Street search warrant in February, and last year’s search warrant in Robert Street recovered in excess of 150 allegedly stolen items.

“Junee Police are out patrolling more than ever, day and night. The people of Junee should be proud that crime has been reduced because they helped us by providing valuable information to act on and continue the downward trend of crime,” Inspector Vergano said.