July 24, 2024

A Recent Survey by the Ministry of Justice Uncovers a Rise in Car Thefts and Online Scams

7100 people were surveyed by the Ministry of Justice to understand their experiences with crime. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

New statistics highlight a stark surge in auto theft and an escalating number of people falling prey to internet fraud.
The Ministry of Justice’s annual crime and victimisation survey – in its sixth year – evaluated crime experiences of more than 7100 participants from October 2022 to November 2023.
A 47 percent surge in vehicle theft was recorded with an increase of 19,000 reported cases in 2023 compared to the previous year.
Rebecca Parish, Ministry of Justice spokesperson, aligns this trend with increasing international instances of fraud and cyber crime.

“Continuing on from last year’s report of a significant increase in fraud victims, the trend continued into 2023,” said Parish. “In the past 12 months, 10 percent of New Zealanders fell prey to fraud, making it the most common crime.” Unauthorized bank transactions and online purchase scams contributed to two-thirds and one-fifth of the fraud instances, respectively.

People are reporting more instances of online scams. Photo: 123RF

Increasing fraud and deception crimes also correlate with increased crime instances targeting Asian adults. Close to 30 percent reported experiencing at least one crime last year, marking a six percent increase since initiation of the survey in 2018.

Maori adult crime rates have been continually declining over the past six years and currently stands at 34 percent. However, this figure is higher than the overall average for crime experiences. The LBGT+ community, young people and disabled people are victimized more than average as well.

The police confirmed a similar trend, noting a steady crime rate of 32 percent, an increase of just one percent.

High levels of public trust in the police and reporting rates continue increasing, the police said.
Commissioner Andrew Coster appreciated the survey’s findings. “Our staff’s commitment to community safety garners strong trust and confidence, close to 67 percent overall,” he remarked. “Moreover, with 83 percent of citizens feeling that law enforcement will treat them professionally, it reflects on our everyday service.”

Reporting rates, particularly for cases of interpersonal violence, continue to rise – a trend Commissioner Coster attributes to the police’s efforts to ease the reporting process.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith raised concerns over New Zealand’s rising crime rate. In response, the minister outlined new legislation intended to cut down instances of violent crime by 20,000 and reduce serious youth reoffending by 15 percent by 2029.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common type of fraud experienced by New Zealanders?

Fraud has catapulted from affecting 6.2 percent to 10 percent of people between 2021 and 2022. This trend did not stall in the following year with 189,000 more fraud victims. The report pinpointed that most of this fraud (86 percent) happened online, through text message and emails. Phone scams contributed to only 2 percent of the fraud in 2023.

What is contributing to the growing number of vehicle thefts in New Zealand?

A surge from 30,000 to 68,000 vehicle thefts was documented from 2021 to 2023. The majority of these thefts occurred with cars parked on streets or roads. According to the researchers, this trend coincides with increases in vehicle theft in countries like the UK, US and Australia. As of 2020, New Zealand had the highest vehicle theft rate globally.

What factors are exacerbating feelings of insecurity among New Zealand’s population?

If we consider 2018 as a benchmark, a near 60 percent hike in individuals feeling unsafe was reported by the Ministry of Justice survey. This includes both victims and non-victims of crime. Factors such as media portrayals of theft and discrimination against certain community groups have added to this fear. Statistics reveal that nearly one third of Chinese adults, an increase of almost 20 percent since 2018, have reported feeling unsafe within the survey.