Australian Institute of Criminology

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A survey of crime against ethnic businesses

Media Release

10 November 2006

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology shows that the risks of crime occurring against small businesses in ethnically diverse communities varies with the type of business and ethnic background of the owner. Risks of crime were also higher where there was a perception of low police visibility and higher contact with drug users.

The face-to-face survey was conducted in 2003-04 with 337 small businesses in two ethnically diverse communities in the Sydney suburbs of Fairfield and Cabramatta. Interviews were conducted in Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and English. The study aimed to identify differences in victimisation and reporting levels between English-speaking and non-English speaking businesses.

Just under half of all businesses in the sample had experienced at least one crime in 2002. Completed shoplifting was the most common crime (24%), followed by verbal abuse (9%), attempted burglary and vandalism (each 7%).

The study found that after adjusting for the effects of other variables, the risks of shoplifting were higher for Chinese businesses and the risks of other property crime, including burglary, were higher for Vietnamese businesses compared with English speaking businesses. Overall rates of vandalism and/or graffiti, verbal abuse and cheque and credit card fraud were higher for English speaking businesses.

Businesses said that they had not reported many of the crimes to the police. Incidents of shoplifting were least likely to be reported (10%) with completed burglary being most likely (83%). While proficiency in English was not associated with actual victimisation, higher English proficiency was a significant predictor of willingness to report future incidents of shoplifting and burglary. This suggests that language barriers may deter reporting of certain crimes to police.

Confidence in police also affected the decision to report crime with those reporting low confidence being less likely to report crime. Fear of reprisal also reduced the willingness of business owners to report future incidents of attempted shoplifting, unarmed robbery and extortion. English-speaking businesses were more likely to say that they would report an incident of extortion if it occurred in the future.