Cost of living, interest rates drive retail theft in Australia

The painful cost of living and high interest rates are being blamed for growing retail thefts of groceries, alcohol and petrol.

Victoria's latest crime statistics release reveals a 7.9 percent increase in overall criminal offences in the 12 months to March and a rise in the crime rate.

Victoria Police say crime has gradually increased since the end of Covid-19 lockdowns but has still not reached pre-pandemic levels.

However, as the cost of living and mortgage rates climb, so too have theft offences.

Retail store thefts grew by 7635 offences to 29,747 offences overall, with items such as food, groceries and alcohol the prime targets.

"Other states are also experiencing rising shop steal offences, in line with inflation, cost-of-living pressures and high interest rates," Victoria Police said in a statement.

"Police intelligence indicates as many as 50 percent of offenders are first-time shop stealers, while a quarter are first-time criminal offenders."

The most common type of other theft offence is theft of petrol, which police believe is similarly linked to the cost of living.

Theft from motor vehicles continues to rise, with unlocked cars being hit the most.

And stealing cars has reached its highest number since 2017.