There's no time for crime like the weekend in Queensland.

The trouble starts on Friday afternoon when unlawful entry offences, such as having your home broken into, begins to rise from 3pm. By five o'clock, the offence peaks.

In 2019 there were 676 unlawful entry offences recorded between 5-6pm, according to data collected by Queensland Police. It's a significant jump on just a few hours earlier when just 192 offences were recorded between 1-2PM.

But it's not just thieves who get busy on the weekends.

Sex offenders launch into action as well. - 11pm on Saturday night is the peak time for sex offences, with 68 sex offences recorded.

9pm and 10pm also saw elevated numbers in the 50s - a considerable increase from low periods such 4am and 5am on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when just four sex offences were recorded.

 

A machete-wielding robber holds staff at ransom at Mermaid Beach Tavern on the Gold Coast in July 2019. Picture: Queensland Police
A machete-wielding robber holds staff at ransom at Mermaid Beach Tavern on the Gold Coast in July 2019. Picture: Queensland Police

Rape and attempted rape followed a similar pattern, rising incrementally in the evening hours of Saturday night, and reaching an 11pm peak of 28 offences.

However, it was 6pm on a Wednesday that saw the highest number for rape and attempted rape - with 35 offences recorded in the timeslot. 2am on Sunday morning was the next highest with 33 offences logged.

While a single incident can generate multiple offences, meaning the apparent spike could be explained by one gang attack, it's clear Friday and Saturday nights link to an overall increase in offences of a sexual nature.

When it comes to serious assault, a similar trend emerges. From 3pm on Friday, serious assault offences rise significantly (sometimes tripling figures recorded earlier in the day) and stay elevated until 2am on Saturday.

Like sex offences, the peak time for serious assault is 11pm on a Saturday night, with 176 offences recorded.

 

In July, 2019, four children stole a four-wheel-drive from Rockhampton, Qld, and drove it to NSW. This CCTV footage captures one of the children stealing petrol from a service station in Banana. Picture: Queensland Police
In July, 2019, four children stole a four-wheel-drive from Rockhampton, Qld, and drove it to NSW. This CCTV footage captures one of the children stealing petrol from a service station in Banana. Picture: Queensland Police

So why are the traditional party nights of Friday and Saturday so conducive to crime? And why do thieves become particularly industrious on Friday afternoons?

According to Associate Professor Michael Townsley of Griffith University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, there's one simple explanation.

"For a crime to occur there has to be three elements in position - a motivated offender, a victim or target, and a guardian," Dr Townsley said.

"Basically you need all those elements for crime to be possible. If one of them is out of alignment then a crime won't happen."

 

There are three main elements that need to be in position for a crime to occur — a motivated offender, a victim and a guardian, says Associate Professor Michael Townsley, Head of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Picture: Supplied
There are three main elements that need to be in position for a crime to occur — a motivated offender, a victim and a guardian, says Associate Professor Michael Townsley, Head of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Picture: Supplied

 

In other words, for a house to be broken into, there needs to be a suitable house, a willing crook, and the house's 'guardian' (such as residents or neighbours who may stop the crime occurring) need to be absent or distracted to give the crook the opportunity to break in.

"The example, I give is car accidents. Just as lot of cars have accidents at rush hour when there's lots of cars and lots of congestion, crime peaks when there's either lots of victims around, lots of offenders, or there's no guardians," Dr Townsley said.

While crimes involving sex or theft seem to be tied to the weekend, it seems Monday morning is the fraudster's time to strike. 8am on Monday morning was the peak time for fraud offences, with 297 recorded. Other times, such as the early hours of the morning, sees fraud offences drop to the thirties.

As the crime of fraud encompasses so many variants of the offences, from romantic and professional to online fraud which would all have different unique peak times, Dr Townsley said the spike was difficult to explain.

And Thursday is a shoplifter's delight, with the offence reaching its peak at 3pm, when 500 offences were reported.

*Note, one incident can have multiple offences

Originally published as Queensland's most dangerous crime hours revealed


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