Elderly Australians are increasingly turning to crime in order to survive during hard times as the cost-of-living escalates.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show while crime rates among the total population remained steady between July 2010 and July last year, criminality among those aged 65 years and over rose in every state except Tasmania.
The figures reveal a 10% national increase in the “silver crime wave”, with NSW (28%) and Victoria (13%) leading the way. In South Australia it rose by 6%.
However, National Seniors chief executive, Michael O'Neill, says there is ample evidence many Australian pensioners have been going without basic necessities and any petty crime increases would be an extension of that.
“Older Australians go to great lengths to try to live within their budget,” he says.
Australian Retailers Association figures show shoplifting losses rose to an estimated $7.5 billion last year, up from $4.5 billion in 2006.
AAP reports Commissioner for Victims Rights, Michael O'Connell, as saying while elderly crime rates are much lower than among the general population, crimes of desperation occur.
“Elders (unfortunately) often find themselves in necessitous circumstances and crime – such as shop stealing – is seen as a means of survival,” he says.
The ageing population, especially in South Australia, could be behind the rise, and more senior Australians are being convicted of crimes they committed decades ago, he says.