General News

29 November, 2022

Crime fear shocks council

ELDERLY people are sleeping in shifts because they are too afraid their house will be broken into or their vehicles will be stolen as Atherton suffers an “unprecedented” crime wave, Tablelands Regional Council was told last week.

Crime fear shocks council - feature photo

Cr Bernie Wilce told the council meeting the situation was terrible when people had to take such drastic action even though they lived in a small country town.

“We have a genuine problem and we’ve got to work with the community to fix it,” he said.

“Four vehicles were stolen last week and I have seen for myself how youths hang around the shops in town, and hide in trees casing them early in the morning.

“We are aware that 90 per cent of the crimes committed are by a small group of juveniles, some of them have come up here from Cairns.”

Cr David Clifton said even a small place like Yungaburra was being targeted by the young criminals.

“There have been a number of cars stolen and a number of reports of people lurking around back yards – even in a place like Yungaburra, it’s a problem,” he said.

Data from the Queensland Police website shows 318 offences were committed in Atherton over the past three months, including 45 reports of unlawful entry, 75 charges of theft, 20 incidences of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, 34 assaults, and 36 charges of property damage.

In Yungaburra during the same period, there were 20 offences, while there was 43 at Malanda, 17 of which were related to theft.

In the same period, the region’s other major town, Mareeba, recorded 468 offences.

Council received correspondence from Atherton Police last week, prompting the discussion on what role council could play in helping to remedy the situation.

Mayor Rod Marti said he wanted to know more about what was happening on the ground and moved that council hold a workshop on crime and community safety to inform the council of what work was being done by different agencies in the town and what role council could have in assisting that work.

“My concern is that we need to be better informed as a group of councillors as to what is happening – I am not well informed and need more knowledge and awareness of what is going on and what is being done,” he said.

“We can’t take the lead in this but we have role to play.”

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew said he agreed council could assist in some ways but believed the key to having real success in reducing crime was for the State Government to change the laws.

“The State needs to change the laws so that people who offend, the punishment reflects the crime which it’s not at the moment,” he said.

“When we have a situation where people have to sleep in shifts, that’s just not on.

“People are expected to be locked up like a fortress in their own home. We must advocate to the Stage Government to change the laws.”


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